They say there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. Most of us despise both, and yet will do almost anything not to contemplate the former. So if you're willing to go on a journey to discuss the pain, amusement, torment and ridiculousness of life, 'Youth' may be the perfect film for you.
Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) is an esteemed orchestra conductor, who has retired and given up his art. His life-long friend, Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel), is a famous director, however is still trying to create his life's greatest work. The pair are visiting an elegant hotel at the foot of the Alps, and not only take the time to meet some of the peculiar guests staying at this luxurious retreat, but revisit their past and the choices they made.
Although the premise may not particularly seem overly thrilling at face value, it's the nuances of the unfolding events which make this film such an enjoyable experience. It's as much a comment on growing old in Western society as it is about the contrast in these two friends and their parallel yet contrasting paths through life. It also delves into the idea of being as old as you feel; youth who have lost all hope are frequently more futile than their aged acquaintances.
The film allows you the pleasure of sitting back and watching two fantastic veteran actors try to shed some light on the meaning of life. Caine and Keitel play characters perhaps a little too close to home, making their portrayals all the more fascinating. Their younger counterparts bring an equally impressive gravitas - Paul Dano surprises once again as an infamous film star on the hunt for inspiration, and Rachel Weisz as Fred's daughter Lena is excellent as she tries to discover who her father really is. There's also a brilliant appearance from Jane Fonda, first brutally honest then honestly hilarious.
The film allows you the pleasure of sitting back and watching two fantastic veteran actors try to shed some light on the meaning of life.
Not at all to ruin it, but the ending is a particular highlight of the film. What you've chosen to believe isn't precisely the true course of nature; it allows for a moving and euphoric conclusion.
Although 'Youth' examines a variety of issues focused around life and death, in the end it's up to the viewer to evaluate the outcome. Much like life itself, you choose what you take away from it. This won't be for everyone, but if you're eager to step outside the everyday black and white, this film delivers a range of shades that are sure to appeal.