Youth: Film Review

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Youth competed for the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival this year and received major praise from critics, so I felt confident going to see it. The stellar cast of Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz and Paul Dano are impressive but this is very indie and odd and will not please everybody.

Caine plays Fred, a retired composer staying at a retreat in Switzerland. He is being courted by the Queen’s emissary to come out of retirement to perform at Prince Philip’s birthday concert. His friend Mick (Keitel) is working on the screenplay for his next movie, which will star Brenda (Jane Fonda). It also features Fred’s assistant and daughter Lena (Weisz) and actor Jimmy (Dano), who is getting into the zone for his next role.

This is far more entertaining than I expected. I laughed out loud all the time – it was bloody hilarious! Some of the comedy was pretty dark too. I especially loved the cameo from Paloma Faith. Her parody music video, which appears in a dream, is absolutely genius and the scenes where Fred is imagining conducting an orchestra are worth a mention too.

I think some people may take issue with the 114 minute running time when not much happens. There is not much plot, it is more about the characters at the hotel and what they are going through. But I enjoyed all of it and just soaked in the terrific dialogue. Their conversations may be about the most mundane things but it was still enjoyable.

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I haven’t seen Keitel do anything besides adverts in years and he stole his scenes. He was simply brilliant. I also loved Weisz, but she can be trusted with top notch acting every time, and Caine puts in the best performance I have seen in years. There isn’t just a fantastic cast and script – the music also takes centre stage here and it is LOUD. It is mixture of classical, orchestral fare to pumping disco beats, which certainly took me by surprise the first time.

It does begin to flag towards the end and you have no idea where it is going to end up, but you just want it to get a wriggle on. It takes a very sad turn which was a surprise after the darkly humorous proceedings before.  It could have been about 15-30 minutes shorter, but nothing felt superfluous.

This is pretty indie so it will not be everyone’s cup of tea, and while it has some dark themes, it is an awful lot of fun and I had a smile on my face the entire way through.

In cinemas Friday 

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