Reflecting on the Past – Youth (2015)

Lives well lived.  So this is about a retired orchestra conductor, renowned for his works of yesteryear.  A ministry worker tries to coerce him into conducting a concert for the Queen of England, but he must fully weigh his options.  When I watched this (over a month ago), I was at the point where I was watching anything with a hint of Oscar buzz.  Now that the nominees have already come out, Youth has found itself with just one for Music Written for a Motion Picture.  That said, it’s still something atop of many a critic’s “best of” list.  So how did it resonate with me?  While I wouldn’t label this as something that I typically go for, it certainly has its moments.

2As you may be able to gather from this picture, there’s a lot of moments that can only be described as “pensive”.

It’s been a loooong time since I’ve seen the following movie, but the film that this reminded most of is 8 1/2.  This is not only about a retired orchestra conductor, but also features his friend, an aging film director as well.  Because of this, there are a lot references to filmmaking, so the correlation is pretty apparent, but that’s not where the comparison stops.  Like 8 1/2, this features some truly beautiful cinematography.  Not exaggerating, if there is one category that this should be up for an Academy Award for, it’s cinematography.  The framing of it and the way that shots are set-up are worthy of your viewing alone, if only for how gorgeous it looks.  It also reminded me of Ida in that regard.

1Which isn’t a sentiment I typically have about films; regardless of how great it looks, I usually have to at least have a connection with the story.

As you probably wouldn’t gather from the title, this is a movie about old, aging men.  The older you are, the more this is probably going to speak to you.  Personally, I am on the outer edge of my 20’s, so I wasn’t really able to connect with these characters.  The acting is fine; I haven’t seen Harvey Keitel in a long time (for me, the last movie I saw him in was the National Treasure sequel (if you don’t include Wes Anderson cameos)), and he’s an always welcome talent.  I have also never seen Caine play a character who is as old as Michael Caine is in real life (he’s 83, guys), openly discussing health problems.  If you describe your movie as being a contemplative reflection, you’re already turning me off to it.  That is what Youth is for the most part, but it really is so beautifully shot, so for that, I can give it a marginal recommendation.

Youth (2015) ***1/2

– Critic for Hire


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