This movie has a very intense impact. It follows an Italian family, through trials and tribulations, from the sixties to the present day. It is a long movie but supremely worth it.
Oh momma mia. To be fair, I had no idea how long The Best of Youth was before I got it, so to my defense; I didn't quite know what I was getting into. But, as soon as I read the back, I began to have some kind of idea. While it may have been wise to spread the six hours over a period of a couple of days, in the end, I found myself with a large block of time and not much to do within it. And, unlike I feared, I found that I did not become burnt out by the length of the film but, instead, I found myself enamored.
The plot of The Best of Youth is simple. Two brothers, living in the wild, rambunctious and heady atmosphere of Rome in the 1960s set out to take a trip to Norway. But, one of the brothers, alarmed by what he sees at a home for the mentally ill, kidnaps a mistreated young woman. He brings her to his brother, a budding doctor, and they set out to return her to her home. On the journey they will become enamoured with her, as the enigma of her illness slowly unravels. But, that’s just the first hour. Over the next five hours the brother’s will age, marry, divorce, grow apart and grow together, all throughout the turbulent spectre of a changing Italy.
And it is in the characters that the true beauty of the film shines through. They slowly endeared themselves to me so much that at one point I was literally shouting at one of them on screen. While perhaps a sign that spending six hours in front of a TV screen watching a group of Italians slowly age may not be the healthiest of activities, I couldn't care less. The film is a generational epic, with breathtaking scope and vision. The arc is mammoth, following two brothers from their wild teenage days in the sixties to the birth of their grandchildren and the 2000s. The acting is resplendent, with Luigi Lo Cascio and Alessio Boni acting as the crux upon which the supporting cast is built.
The two brothers spark whenever they're on screen, and their chemistry and naturalism in their roles is what helps make The Best of Youth feel so personal, so relatable. The scope doesn't rely on major benchmarks to mark the passing of time, instead only little things, like the Florence flood of 1966, or Italy winning the World Cup in 1982 are used, with the greying of characters hair, or the growth of a beard representing the era. The crisp cinematography and lovely score underscore the giant, epic feel to the story. Little details, like the music playing in the background or cars the characters drive just push the story forward.
Using the word story doesn't seem right, however. This film is a narrative, it is written in a novelistic way, with people appearing and events occurring in different blocks and times. Each fadeout represents a new chapter, and each new chapter represents an advance in time, another opportunity to look through the window into these character's lives. I can only thank director Giordana and his writers, Rulli and Petraglia, for having the ambition and sheer insanity to mount a project this epic in scale. And yes, the film does slow down in the second half. But the first half, when the characters are young and vital, more than makes up for any slowing of pace as they age. The film does not focus solely on the best of youth, instead focusing on how the consequences of youth can shape a person's entire life.
For anyone nervous or unsure about approaching this film, let me say this; yes, The Best of Youth is six hours long. But, by the end, trust me, you'll wish it was longer.
The first half was engaging and interesting, though straining credulity. I mean, two young Italian men palling around with a literally catatonic, unresponsive woman they abduct from an asylum and getting all sentimental about her? It just gets more ludicrously syrupy after that. But hey, occasionally a good weepy movie hits the spot.
After a mediocre first quarter, this one picks up a bit, making one think that the last half might be of some interest. Baaad mistake.
Giordana's premise appears to be - the only happiness lies in selling out in the most disgusting way possible. Imagine if "The Baader-Meinhof Complex" was made by the director of "The Sound of Music". Excessive sentimentality is piled on until the viewer screams "Please, Please, No More"
Excellent, well-done movie! I highly recommend it!
One of my top three films. Beautifully filmed, acted, written and edited. The only drawback is the six-hour running time as I wish I could just watch it any time.
bought this as soon as it was released stateside. don't think i watched anything else for a year. a great story well told.
Italian mini series w/sub titles - great! want to buy it some day.
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