Cannes 2015: More fabulous Fellini-esque antics from Paolo Sorrentino, with Michael Caine
Youth is a state of mind in the latest extravagant cinematic opera from Italian director Paolo Sorrentino. A baroque reflection on the regrets and indignities of old age, it finds Sorrentino increasingly happy to claim the title of a 21st century Fellini with its wild flights of fancy, heightened emotions and fondness for the grotesque. It doesn’t hit the bullseye quite as often as his Oscar-winning The Great Beauty but it is a film distinguished by wondrous visuals, the warm embrace of its soundtrack and strong performances from a veteran ensemble cast.
Michael Caine (looking amazingly close to Sorrentino regular Toni Servillo) plays Fred Ballinger, a composer and conductor now so firmly retired that he refuses to step back into the limelight and perform a concert by royal request. On holiday at a luxury spa hotel in the foothills of the Alps, he is joined by lifelong friend Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel), a film director still in the game and trying to get one last project off the ground. Fellow guests include actor Jimmy Tree (Paul Dano) and Fred’s daughter Lena (Rachel Weisz).
As they are prodded and pampered, massaged and left to soak in steamy outdoor pools, Fred and Mick reflect on everything from lost loves to failing prostates, grand affairs, the wisdom that comes with age and the many lingering regrets that accompanies it.
It is a melancholy reflection on what waits in store for all of us but wrapped up in Sorrentino’s typically flamboyant and often hugely eccentric approach, for instance Lena’s husband leaves her for Paloma Faith, who is played by yer actual Paloma Faith. Late in the day Jane Fonda swoops in for a vicious little turn as tough-talking Hollywood diva Brenda Morel. Sorrentino still doesn’t seem entirely comfortable working in the English language (see also This Must Be the Place) but with Youth you forget the flaws and failings and just savour the three-ring circus.
Screening as part of Cannes 2015. General release TBC.