Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Youth Without Youth

Well, well. Here is another controversial movie that I found outstandingly good and outstandingly interesting. Let me start by saying that definitively I have a weakness for Romanian movies, after seeing this movie I’m absolutely sure that I do. If you’re familiar with the title and the film director you probably are asking what Francis Ford Coppola has to do with Romania? Well in this movie absolutely everything.

The movie tells a very intellectual story - with an outstanding premise- based on Romanian Mircea Eliade novella by the name of Tinereţe fără tinereţe (Youth Without Youth) about the life of Dominic Matei, an elderly Romanian intellectual who experiences a cataclysmic event that allows him to live a new life with starting intellectual capacity. The story left me wishing that I could be stroked by lightning to be able to live something similar to what the first lightning provokes to Dominic Matei (not because he remained young, but for what he was able to do). By the way the lightning scene is just spectacular in the film and made me jump from my seat.

I won’t tell you more about the story and if you want to know more I suggest you read the article here, but be aware that has major spoilers and is a very serious article in one of the blogs of The Social Science Research Council.

Let’s talk about the film as a film. Produced, written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola it doesn’t look at all like his regular films, this is an European film and particularly a Romanian film with Romanian actors, crew, technicians, etc. Seem like the only non-Romanian and non-European are Coppola and Tim Roth that plays the role of Dominic Matei. (Oops, Tim Roth is not American and he's often mistaken for an American because of his skill at imitating accents...)

The film has outstandingly beautiful outdoor and indoor cinematography by Romanian Mihai Malaimare Jr and is a true delight to the eyes, especially one particular outdoor scene where he plays with light during the day and looks something like if there was a light and very fast sun eclipse. But prepare yourself for the multiple upside-down takes that will blow your mind. Fabulous!

I’m no fan of Tim Roth but here he is quite good and I almost fall from my seat when I saw Anamaria Marinca (from 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) in a small role!!! Also here looking less exotic and perhaps more classic beauty is Alexandra Maria Lara (remember her from the British movie Control?) with a very good performance in those moments when she’s speaking ancient languages.

Have to say that the beginning of the movie is a little slow for my taste as I find that the outstandingly interesting story could have been moved in time a little faster as I feel Coppola lost too much valuable time establishing Dominic’s “transformation” which I got right away. But as soon as years fly the movie picks up a good rhythm that is not necessarily fast, it still slow but with what’s happening you will enjoy it.

This is movie with many modern languages like English, German, French, Italian, and ancient languages as old Egyptian, old Sanskrit, Sumerian, and others; including one that they invented that is so rigorous that could become the base for a new language. What is outstanding is that all languages are authentic and just imagine the amount of hard research done to do something like this. Amazing!

There is a magazine with the complete Eliade’s novella and info about the movie that I definitively have to get and if after seeing the movie you’re also interested go here.

This movie absolutely is not for all audiences just check most American critics and viewers’ reactions; but the European counterpart is dissimilar with mainly positive comments. I’m thinking that those that love paranormal and/or parapsychological phenomena could like the story, but I’m not sure if they will like this outstanding poetic, symbolic and mystic movie. So, honestly I’m unsure about how to describe the best target group for this movie, but I strongly suggest to some of my loyal readers to give it a try, perhaps you'll like it as much as I did.

Well, after almost a decade away from the big screen Coppola comes back with a very personal film that I’m sure will disappoint Coppola’s fans but will mesmerize others like me. Think that now more than ever before I understand the benefits of producing, writing and directing your own movies, seems to be the only way for well known industry related celebrities to faithfully do their personal visions.

Big Enjoy!!!

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