By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Paolo Sorrentino, the critically acclaimed director of The Great Beauty, winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film, is back with a wonderful film that is both poignant and rather amusing. Sorrentino’s film focuses on the issues of aging, retirement, and reflection on one’s life. Youth stars Michael Caine as Fred Ballinger, a retired classical music composer and conductor vacationing at a luxurious spa in the Swiss Alps.
Ballinger and his best friend, movie director Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) spend most of their time relaxing, but also reflecting on the good and bad times of their life, and some of the sins of their past. The discussions between Fred and Mick are countered by the experiences of Fred’s daughter Lena and famous actor Jimmy Tree, both of whom and some of the other guests are approaching middle age and are experiencing crises of their own.
I have to say that I truly enjoyed this film. It is a smart, witty and eccentric reflection on life, love, and aging. Sorrentino mixes impeccable artistry in the look of his film with some exceptional writing of both comedic and cerebral varieties. The cast all deliver extraordinary performances with Caine being a consummate thespian. Sorrentino has not only made one of the best entries of the 2015 Austin Film Festival, he has also made one of the best films of the year.