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  Publicity Stills of
"Youth Without Youth"
(Courtesy of Cathay-Keris Films)

Genre: Drama
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Tim Roth, Alexandra Maria Lara, Bruno Ganz, André Hennicke, Adrian Pintea
RunTime: 2 hrs 4 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: M18
Official Website: http://www.youthwithoutyouthmovie.com/

Opening Day: 18 September 2008


1938, Romania: at 70, a professor of language and philosophy, Dominic Matei, contemplates suicide: the love of his life is dead, and he remains unable to complete his life's work on the origins of language. Then, he's struck by lightning. After a slow recovery, he grows younger. He must now avoid Nazis, who want to study and experiment on him. Some years later, he meets a young woman who has her own passage through a lightning storm. Not only does Dominic find love again, but her new abilities hold the key to his research. Is the sweetness of life finally at hand?

Movie Review:

The name Francis Ford Coppola is one that is sure to draw film aficionados anywhere and everywhere. This is afterall, the master director behind all-time classics like The Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now. So, is Youth Without Youth a movie that ranks way up high as the two classics or will it be a flop like Jack (yes, that Robin Williams movie that Coppola did direct) considering there has been very little fanfare about Youth Without Youth on our shores?

Tim Roth stars as Professor Dominic Matei, an old Romanian professor of language who only has death on his mind as he nears his end. Crossing the road one day, Matei is struck by lightning and miraculously survives the fatal accident though he remains unrecognizable in the hospital. As he completes his recovery process, it is soon discovered that he is a young man again. The road ahead is one that is filled with a new-found love and perhaps something that he never expected.

That said, are the easiest parts of the movie. What happens next is one that is full of complexities, constantly forcing you to dig deep into the depths of your mind to fathom what is happening or constantly singing you to sleep. While Coppola manages to capture a sense of European romanticism, the movie often dwells between the broody and the confusing. The confusion starts when Matei falls in love with the young linguist, Veronica (Alexandra Maria Lara) an incarnation of his past love from many years back. Without giving too much away, her condition starts to deteriorate after an accident and Matei’s strength appears to grow each time he is with her.

Tim Roth is a fantastic actor, the poorer man’s version of Gary Oldman in one way but I am certain that will not be for long as his recognition is long overdue. The Hulk is a start but that is another story. Here, Roth’s nuances as an old man finding his youth again are wonderful as he goes through the process of rediscovery, yet, his performance is far from his best, often choppy possibly because he himself was not too sure how to play dual characters. Maria Lara tries to keep up with Roth and everyone else is in a somewhat pedestrian role including the ever reliable Bruno Ganz.

On the overall, Youth Without Youth is a very slow movie, plodding from one point to another not quite certain where it is headed. For a movie about being young again, I left the cinema feeling quite the opposite. There are circles which have claimed this to be Coppola’s best work to date heralding it as a tribute to movies of yesteryears. I might need to watch this multiple times just to 'get it' or perhaps I just happen to think that this is definitely not one of Coppola’s best efforts to date.

Movie Rating:

(If you like a deep, broody movie on any given day, then this is for you)

Review by Mohamad Shaifulbahri


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. Days of Glory (2006)

. The Good Shepherd DVD (2006)

. Sex & Philosophy DVD (2005)



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