YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH
Dominic Matei (Tim Roth) is an aging professor of linguistics in 1938 Romania who survives a cataclysmic event to find his youth miraculously restored. Dominic's physical rejuvenation is matched by a highly evolved intellect, which attracts the attention of Nazi scientists, forcing him into exile. While on the run, he reunites with his lost love, Laura (Alexandra Maria Lara), and works to complete his research into the origins of human language. When his research threatens Laura's well being, Dominic is forced to choose between his life's work and the great love of his life.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Summarising the story of Youth Without Youth is a bit like trying to summarise a David Lynch film. Not only is it pointless, it is just about impossible within normal boundaries of length. The synopsis that serves as a guide to the film's content is an oversimplified, almost inaccurate rendition of the plot defying elements. This film, based on a novella, takes us into the spiritual and the metaphysical, the real and the imagined/dreamt. But it's a stilted and inelegant work, well below par for Francis Ford Coppola.
Those tantalisingly fragile elements and the way Coppola handles them, would make any film challenging, but here the confusion created by its Romanian setting populated by characters who speak English naturally, like Tim Roth (and Matt Damon in a cameo), as well as some who speak with an East European accent to suggest they are locals, is disconcerting to say the least. This is quite ironic since Dominic (Tim Roth) is a linguistics professor.
Tim Roth, by the way, is a superb actor and he does very well in an impossible role; he is fried in lightning at the age of 70 or so, recovers and regains his youth, or at least his 30s, and then has to put up with his alter ego lecturing him, while escaping from Nazi scientists and rediscovering his lost love (the beautiful and engaging Alexandra Maria Lara) ... who is perhaps the reincarnation of an ancient woman. Her past lives, into which she sometimes regresses, helps his research into the origins of language.
Coppola seems determined to use the material as a tool for pushing the cinematic envelope; he uses upside down camera, unexpected close ups, surreal images and other devices to heighten the sense of experimentation and bravura filmmaking. But some of these elements are mere distractions and the meaning - if there was any - seems to be lost. Dominic's journey is a metaphorical one, for sure, but what do we make of the resolution which combines sci-fi with mysticism and reincarnation, but without emotional or intellectual satisfaction.
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YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH (M)
CAST: Tim Roth, Alexandra Maria Lara, Bruno Ganz, Andre Hennicke, Marcel Iures, Adrian Pintea, Matt Damon
PRODUCER: Francis Ford Coppola
DIRECTOR: Francis Ford Coppola
SCRIPT: Francis Ford Coppola (novella by Mircea Eliade)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mihai Malamiare jr
EDITOR: Walter Murch
MUSIC: Osvaldo Golijov
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Calin Papura
RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hopscotch
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney (Chauvel), Melbourne (Kino), Perth (Paradiso): November 20; Brisbane (Schonell) November 21, 2008