Med­i­ta­tion on ag­ing turns into a cel­e­bra­tion of film

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - South Broward - - MOVIES - By Rene Ro­driguez

“Youth,” writer-di­rec­tor Paolo Sor­rentino’s vis­ually ex­trav­a­gant med­i­ta­tion on old age, is the sim­ple, nearplot­less tale of two old friends — a re­tired com­poser and orchestra di­rec­tor (Michael Caine) and a film­maker (Har­vey Kei­tel) — va­ca­tion­ing at a lux­u­ri­ous Swiss spa and re­sort.

Fred, the mu­si­cian, has come at the in­sis­tence of his daugh­ter (Rachel Weisz), who has ar­ranged daily med­i­cal check­ups and mas­sages for him. Mick, the di­rec­tor, has brought his stable of writ­ers with him to help ham­mer out the script for his lat­est project, the uniron­i­cally ti­tled “Life’s Last Day.” The two pals stroll through the ho­tel grounds and en­gage in chitchat. Their friend­ship has en­dured be­cause they only talk about triv­ial things. They don’t chal­lenge each other the way other peo­ple chal­lenge them. MPAA rat­ing: R (for vul­gar lan­guage, graphic nu­dity, sex­ual sit­u­a­tions, adult themes)

Run­ning time: 1:58

Opens: Fri­day

The movie sounds in­suf­fer­able — two old white rich dudes look­ing back on their lives and re­gret­ting their mis­takes — but Sor­rentino turns the script into a sym­phonic cel­e­bra­tion of the grandeur of movies. Al­though not quite as over-the-top vis­ually as his Os­car-win­ning “The Great Beauty,” “Youth” is still spec­tac­u­lar, filled with tableaux (a group of peo­ple sweat­ing si­lently in­side a sauna, a naked man and his pros­ti­tute in­side a ho­tel room) that jux­ta­pose the de­sires and per­son­al­i­ties of young and old with­out di­a­logue. At times, the film verges on be­com­ing a mu­si­cal (it opens with the house band at the ho­tel per­form­ing an ebul­lient cover of Florence and the Ma­chine’s “You’ve Got the Love” pool­side while the cam­era cir­cles around the singer). Other times, “Youth” flirts with oth­er­worldly fan­tasy, es­pe­cially when Sor­rentino al­lows Fellini’s ob­vi­ous in­flu­ence to surge to the fore­front.

The sup­port­ing char­ac­ters are mem­o­rable: In ad­di­tion to Weisz’s fiery turn as Caine’s re­sent­ful daugh­ter, Paul Dano shows up as a Hol­ly­wood ac­tor preparing for a dif­fi­cult role. As a hot-tem­pered vet­eran ac­tress, Jane Fonda al­most steals the film with just one scene, in which she in­forms Kei­tel why she won’t be able to do his movie af­ter all.

But the heart of “Youth” is the life­long bond be­tween two men, both of them artists, who have taken rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to liv­ing out their golden years. Age is more than just a num­ber, “Youth” tells us. What really mat­ters, though, is whether you’re go­ing to let that num­ber de­fine you.

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