youthThe Heart Has Its Secrets
Stars: Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano and Jane Fonda
Director/Scriptwriter: Paolo Sorrentino
Composer: David Lang
Cinematographer: Luca Bigazzi
Fox Searchlight
Rating: R for mature themes, profanity and nudity
Running Length: 124 minutes 
I saw this film at the Kansas International Film Festival (KIFF) almost two months ago, and it has finally come to the Midwest.  The terms “visual feast” and even “aural feast” come often in 2015 for films.  Cinematographers  and composers are expressing themselves extraordinarily. “Sicario” was one that showcased this, with the upcoming “The Revenant,” also. “The Danish Girl” and now Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth" are part of this trend. Sometimes, you wonder if actors even need to show up.  Just have the visuals and music.
In “Youth,” we have two aging men, music conductor Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) and his long-time friend, movie director Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) at a mountain resort, talking about their past. In between talking about ailments, they speak of past love affairs, and the “what if…” The background is European mountains, a lush spa, with Fred’s daughter, Rachel Weisz, as a visitor with her own agenda. Paul Dano pops up as a movie star (think Jude Law or Johnny Depp) hiding from the public and  researching a new role  The stage is set for revelations, and a show-stopping performance by Jane Fonda as an aging movie star who has certain reasons why she won't appear in Keitel’s next film. If this weren't enough, some beauty pageant winners are also at the spa. Yes, there is humor here, but poignancy, and as the past is revealed, tragedy, too.  “Youth” tells us that aging is not an easy process.
The film is set in scenes, against either beautiful rooms or the mountains. In one scene, Caine sits quietly in an Alpine meadow and listens to the country sounds, eventually beginning to conduct everything in time. In another, he helps a young violin student with his music. The soundtrack has special implications in this film and that is another stellar moment along with cinematography. Then, we see Keitel having conversations with his staff about productions and we learn he is way behind schedule. Also, there is a certain lady that is referenced by Weisz and what a story there.
Some scenes go into others, while others stand alone, but within the story concept.  At the end of the movie, though, all fits in. Patience is the game here, whether waiting for an answer or just waiting. Time is part of life and as we see, the main stars have not used it wisely.
“Youth” is at its best with the conversations between Fred and Mick, which range from downright dislike to a sort of kinship, especially when there is a beautiful woman nearby. They were both tops at their trade and that gives them an eliteness to others at the spa. Paul Dano acts like a Greek chorus, asking questions or giving comments at just the right time. There are twists and turns in the plot leading to the finale, just like a movie script, but it is part of their lives in the film. And all this against the backdrop of those beautiful mountains.
Copyright 2015 Marie Asner