YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola from the novella by Mircea Eliade, with Tim Roth, Alexandra Maria Lara and Bruno Ganz. A Sony Pictures Classics/Mongrel Media release. 124 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (January 4). Rating: NN
Dear generation x film fans: I know what you’re thinking. Between this film and Rob Reiner’s The Bucket List, just how much baby boomer “fear of mortality” moviemaking are you going to have to endure?
I’m just guessing, but probably lots. And by the time my generation’s filmmakers are done with it, yours will just be getting geared up for that first bypass/hip replacement and parental death – and with your multi-marrying blended families, you’ll probably be stuck with more funerals than we are. So get used to it.
In Youth Without Youth, Tim Roth starts out tottering around pre-Second World War Bucharest in old man makeup, has a horrible accident and wakes up in a hospital. There, doctor Bruno Ganz is amazed that this allegedly 70-year-old man is healing to look like 40-something Tim Roth, who goes through the next two decades of film time without aging, which must have saved money on makeup.
Is he travelling through time? Is this film playing in a forest and nobody’s there? What’s with the whole Buddhist sidebar with the woman who wakes up in the forest speaking Sanskrit? And isn’t it a good thing that Roth’s character is a linguist who just happens to speak Sanskrit?
Francis Ford Coppola’s first film in a decade is a long meditation on the transmigration of souls and the like, and so, fatalistically, perhaps even deterministically, it comes right back to where it started. Frankly, if life is a circle, I’m thinking of a Dylan lyric, the one where the singer wants to know who he has to pay to get out of going through all these things twice.
Especially this movie.
This was the last full-length review John Harkness wrote before his death. (See related tributes, page 64.)