Saturday, 25 March 2017
Youth is a Dream
Paulo Sorrentino - Director-in-Residence
The Tweed Pig has adopted Paulo Sorrentino as our unofficial director-in-residence. (Whit Stillman, I decided, doesn't make enough films for this 'honour'.)
Paolo's films are beautiful, poetic and complex (or simple depending on how much you read into them) — with visual artistry, painstakingly arranged set pieces and unapologetically slow pacing that renders appreciative viewers spellbound.
Following on from Consequences of Love and The Great Beauty, Youth [Amazon] offers another masculinist character study. With a script written by Paolo, the film contemplates the process of ageing and the consequent malaise when life's arc is descending towards decrepitude.
Michael Caine, dressed by Cesare Attolini of Naples (like Jep Gambardella in The Great Beauty), is superb as Fred Ballinger, a retired composer and conductor. Harvey Keitel, dressed by Brioni, plays Mick Boyle, a director working on a final film he hopes to be his magnum opus.
Fred and Mick are staying at a Swiss hotel, a setting of luxurious decadence. The two act as observers rather than participants, mulling their loss of vigour and creative spark as eccentric characters inhabit the mise en scène.
Mick is feeling nostalgic for the enthusiasms that fired his youth and inspired his creativity. Deep down he knows he has lost his edge in film making and the capability of having original ideas.
Fred has turned his back on his professional life, despite advances from the Queen's emissary to perform his most famous work, Simple Songs. He shuns the requests, and later explains with great poignancy why he has lost his enthusiasm.
Composer David Lang composed the original music for the film, including the moving Simple Song #3, which we get to hear in the film.
Caught up in their own predicament, the two men seem particularly helpless concerning their children. Fred's daughter, Lena, is also staying at the hotel and is married to Mick's son. Their children's marriage is falling apart. If greater insight is meant to come with age, the men are unable to offer any.
As the film progresses, the men arrive at different conclusions as to how they might accommodate past accomplishments with the impotency of the present and the colourlessness of the future.
I think I've made the film sound very bleak, when it actually has lots of humour in it. As well as being an absolute visual feast, it has one of Michael Caine's finest performances. And his hair has never looked better.
Roll on the next Paolo Sorrentino offering. I'm hearing very good things about The Young Pope with Jude Law.