from STRONGSVILLE, OH
Reviewed on 8/6/2010...
While the movie as a whole is good, it seems a bit lengthy and scenes seem oddly scattered. Alexandra Maria Lara and Tim Roth play surprisingly well together, but everyone else was very much forgettable.
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from CHICAGO, IL
Reviewed on 3/13/2010...
These days Francis Ford Coppola he seems to be more famous for his vineyards and the wines he produces than the movies. Sofia's dad last released a new film eleven years ago. Now here's 'Youth Without Youth,' another beautiful loser of a failure to be put up there with another piece of gorgeous pseudo-intellectual fluff 'One from the Heart.' It is, to be sure, visually gorgeous. A narratively unkempt attempt at semi-surrealism in which Coppola folds, spindles and mutilates the idea of bending time and space together into a kind of squeeze-box accordion. The original novella, by Mircea Eliade--a Romanian Jewish manque historian of religion (1907-86)-- is a discourse on the cyclical divide in time as experienced by 'Primitive man' and its converse, linear time, as experienced by Professor Dominic Matei (Tim Roth). Bear with me on this, please!
The story opens with 70-year-old Dominic, being struck by lightning while hurrying across a rainy Bucharest street in 1938. Hospitalized he is cared for by a "great" doctor who runs the hospital(Bruno Ganz). In a super-fast exposition, Dominic loses all his teeth, grows new ones and somehow reverts to his physical prime. Chased everywhere by nazis who want his 'secret', he travels to Switzerland and India. All the while,through a constant dreamy haze, he recalls an old love (Alexandra Maria Lara), has a torrid fetishistic affair with a femme fatale of the Third Reich (Alexandra Pirici), kills of the nazis, moves to in Switzerland, finds a new love (Ms. Lara AGAIN!), instantaneously learns by rote from libraries of knowledge, speaks ancient tongues in India and chats with wiser, smarter double (Roth AGAIN). My favorite scene is when he has some wild sex with Ms. Pirici in a beautiful layered Victorian bedroom, her seemed stockings topped by hand sewn swastikas. Lovely!
The crux of all this comes when Dominic's double insists that the problem isn’t the reality of the exterior world, “but the objective reality of the ‘double’ or the guardian angel.” This may all work well enough on the page because Eliade's delicious (even in translation) prose. Unfortunately, it’s another thing entirely when that meandering mental universe is translated to a movie screen, Instead of interesting language and philosophy, we get little Timmy Roth looking relentlessly bamboozled. Coppola's visual harmony of color and expert framing is wondrous to behold, but the narrative inside his artist's head seems to have exploded into a million ungluable shards.
Mr. Coppola, the creator of at least three pristine movies in 'Godfather 1,' 'Godfather 2' and 'The Conversation' and slightly less successful with 'Apocolypse Now,' seems to a lost lamb. The blurry divide between dreams and everyday life have been far more clearly realized by the likes of Michaelangelo Antonioni and Federico Fellini. Mr. Coppola attempts to transpose and transmogrify the world of dreams and everyday life, but... Where's the meaning? If you like pretty pictures, I'm certain you will love this film.
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