Beauty is something we expect from director Paolo Sorrentino whose previous film, the Academy Award winning best foreign language film, THE GREAT BEAUTY, was replete with gorgeous images and expressive, startling music; his new film, shot in the summer Swiss alps on location at the Berghotel Schatzalp, the inspiration for Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, is a continuation of that film’s operatic, powerfully wistful tone and its study of older men taking the measure of their lives.
Here two very old friends, who happen to be in-laws, vacation. Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine), a well-known composer in semi-retirement, finds his serenity disrupted by the marital crisis of his daughter, Lena (Rachel Weisz), and by a stubborn emissary from the British royal family who wants him to conduct a command performance of one of his best-loved works which he rejects out of hand. Lena urges her father to perform. Meanwhile his old friend, Mick Boyle, a film director, with his entourage in tow, is holed up with screenwriters he hopes will help him concoct the capstone of his career. Fred and Mick enjoy a fading world of culture and jet set glamour, and share their rarefied old World spa with, among others, a respected actor (Paul Dano) looking for direction, a stately Miss Universe (Madalina Ghenea), plus a motley collection of actors, models, footballers. The hotel is a kind of a way station where its guests – when not getting massages or walking the grounds or attending nighttime events put on by the hotel – involve themselves in some bad behavior, but mostly, talk through their mini-crises. And even as the two old pros and pals reminisce and commiserate about aging, one of their old loves shows up, memorably, in the person of Jane Fonda. YOUTH wonders if our most important and life-changing experiences can come at any time – even late – in life.
*Academy Award nominee for Best Original Song
(Italy/US / 2015 / Directed by Paolo Sorrentino)
R / 118 mins.