Youth Without Youth (Sony, 2007) D: Francis Ford Coppola, w/ Tim Roth, Alexandra Maria Lara. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NNNN
On his highly engaging commentary, Francis Ford Coppola muses about not understanding why people found this a difficult movie and suggests that it’s basically a Twilight Zone episode.
On one level, that’s a good call. An aged professor (Tim Roth) regains his youth and develops remarkable mental powers after being struck by lightning. Decades later, he falls in love with a woman (Alexandra Maria Lara) who, due to her own odd event, has begun to inhabit earlier, ancient identities. Will he let her age and die for the sake of his research or renounce her for love?
It’s a good sentimental fantasy. The first problem arrives with the metaphysics and our expectation that the mysteries will be rationally explained (by which I mean tidily packaged in pseudo-scientific gibberish). It doesn’t happen.
Coppola likes his ambiguities and has some interesting things to say about them and the attendant metaphysics. The bigger problem is that Coppola plays the entire film as a romance, but that doesn’t start until almost an hour in, and there’s little tension until then despite the Nazi pursuit.
If you can stand the ambiguity (it really isn’t that difficult) and the leisurely pace, it’s worth a look. The story engages, the images are beautiful, Roth and Lara magnetic and the score is lovely and original. The half-hour devoted to the movie’s music is well worth checking out.
EXTRAS Director commentary and interview, making-of doc, music doc, makeup doc. Widescreen. English, French audio and subtitles.