Friday, 13 November 2015

REVIEW - YOUTH (PAOLO SORRENTINO)


I'll give Paolo Sorrentino this much: he does the best with what he's got, after he's insisted on getting it. His films are gauche and frivolous, but what sweetness he can sift out of the pseudo-profundity and stylistic theft that threatens to overwhelm his films (and does overwhelm Youth) can make them quite pleasant viewing experiences. For a filmmaker so concerned with culture, and with appropriating other artists' cultural contributions, he's remarkably tone-deaf about creating it - even satire has to hit its target with precision, and neither the self-conscious comedy nor the excruciatingly un-self-conscious drama in Youth convinces. We're left with (generally) pretty pictures and (generally) pretty sounds, and it's only in the assembling that Sorrentino is able to make anything attractive out of them. It's as ephemeral as it is ersatz, but it'll do until Jane Fonda arrives. Alas, for all that this writer / director is enamoured with the cute contrivances he forces his characters to endure, he's remarkably ill-informed about the way in which people live their lives - people like this barely even exist, and are evidently insufferable if they do. With a forgetful male gaze and the pomposity of a psychology dropout, Sorrentino spins frivolity into supposed shrewdness, indulging in crass cliches about ageing amid grandiose pontifications about life. That reads like a generalisation; it's not. The film is that simplistic, that presumptuous. I mentioned Jane Fonda, and with good reason: she's worth it, every silly second of Youth. She is what this film ought to be, wants to be, and certainly would be if its key contributors could see further than the inner end of their collective rectum. Remember when I gave San Andreas an extra star because of Kylie Minogue? That'd be too much for this tripe - half an extra star shall suffice.