Youth (2015 film)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Youth (La giovinezza) is a 2015 Italian film written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino. Starring Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel and Jane Fonda, the film is a philosophical portrait of old age.

Youth premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme d'Or.

Contents

Plot

Septuagenarian best friends Fred Ballinger and Mick Boyle are on vacation in the Swiss Alps, staying at a luxury resort. Fred is a retired composer of classical music; at the hotel, he is approached by an emissary for Queen Elizabeth II to perform his popular piece "Simple Songs" at her husband Prince Philip's birthday concert. Fred turns down the offer, claiming he is not interested in performing any more – although he still composes pieces in his head when alone. Mick is a filmmaker, and is working with a group of writers to develop the screenplay for his latest film, which he calls his "testament". Also with them is actor Jimmy Tree, who is researching for an upcoming role and frustrated that he is only remembered for his role as a robot. The hotel is inhabited by other quirky individuals, including a young masseuse, an overweight Diego Maradona, and Miss Universe.

Fred and Mick reflect on their lives, admitting that their memories are fading and that they see little in their futures. Fred's daughter and assistant, Lena, is married to Mick's son, but the latter leaves her for pop star Paloma Faith. Lena stays at the resort and vents her anger at her father, who was always distant as she grew up. The emissary returns, and Lena cries as Fred explains that he won't perform "Simple Songs" because the soprano part belongs only to his wife and she can no longer sing.

Mick completes his screenplay and is satisfied with it. The main role is written for aging diva Brenda Morel, who has starred in eleven of his previous films. Brenda surprises Mick by arriving at the resort, and telling him that she is taking a television role instead; cinema is the past, she says, and Mick hasn't made a good film in years. Disheartened, Mick jumps off a balcony in front of Fred. Fred decides to visit his wife for the first time in years. She is senile, and living at a care home in Venice. He then returns to the UK to conduct "Simple Songs" in front of the Queen and Prince.

Interspersed throughout the film are surreal sequences, including a levitating monk, an imagined Paloma Faith music video, Jimmy dressed as Adolf Hitler, Fred conducting a field of cowbells, and Mick envisioning all his previous leading ladies on a mountaintop (including Brenda, in her new unglamorous TV role).

Cast

Production

Principal photography for the film began in Flims, Switzerland in May 2014.

Mark Kozelek and Universal Themes

American singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek, who appears as himself in the film, and contributed to its soundtrack, wrote of his experiences on the film's set on his subsequent studio album, Sun Kil Moon's Universal Themes (2015). The tracks, "Birds of Flims", "The Possum" and "It's My First Day and I'm Indian and I Work at the Gas Station", mention Kozelek's experiences in filming location, Flims, its crew, and its director, Paolo Sorrentino. Interactions and moments with Paul Dano, Michael Caine, and Jane Fonda are also mentioned within the songs.

Soundtrack

"Youth" Soundtrack Tracklisting Disc 1: 1. You Got the Love – The Retrosettes Sister Band 2. Onward – Mark Kozelek 3. Third and Seneca – Sun Kil Moon 4. Préludes (Book 1) – Des pas sur la neige (No. 6): Triste et lent – Gianluca Cascioli 5. Mercadante: Virginia (Atto I) Cavatina “Figlia tu scuoti” – Susan Patterson 6. À ma manière – Maria Letizia Gorga, Stefano De Meo, Marco Colonna, Laura Pierazzuoli 7. Reality – The Retrosettes Sister Band

2. Disc 2: 1. Can’t Rely on You – Paloma Faith 2. The Breeze / My Baby Cries – Bill Callahan 3. Ceiling Gazing – Mark Kozelek 4. Dirty Hair – David Byrne 5. Stravinsky: Berceuse da “L’oiseau de feu – The Firebird” – Terry Davies 6. Just (After Song of Songs) – Trio Medieval, Garth Knox, Agnes Vesterman, Sylvain Lemetre 7. Simple Song #3 – Sumi Jo 8. Mick’s Dream (Bonus Track) – The Berlin Radio Chorus 9. Wood Symphony (Bonus Track) – David Lang

Critical reception

On Metacritic, the film has received a score of 78 out of 100 based on 9 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".




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