Saturday, June 9, 2012

972. La meglio gioventu/The Best of Youth (2003)

Running Time: 360 minutes
Directed By: Marco Tullio Giordana
Written By: Sandro Petraglia, Stefano Rulli
Main Cast: Luigi Lo Cascio, Alessio Boni, Sonia Bergamasco, Maya Sansa, Jasmine Trinca
Click here to view the trailer


After looking at the running time listed above, you should be able to figure out where I've been for the past three days, as I had to take four sittings to finish off "The Best of Youth", perhaps the longest film I've watched for THE BOOK thus far and if not, it's certainly one of the longest.

To relay the plot for you here, in enough detail to make everything make sense, would take me far too long, so I'm going to summarize the film heavily and leave it at that. The film follows the Carati family, picking up with them in 1966 and ending in 2003. For the most part, we follow the two brothers of the four sibling clan, Nicola (Cascio) and Matteo (Boni), who are attending university and planning a trip to Norway's North Cape when the film starts.  Instead of going on their planned trip, Matteo devises a plan to sneak a girl he's recently met, Giorgia (Trinca), out of a mental hospital, where she's been being mistreated. Having gone to school to be a doctor, Nicola is all for helping a patient in need. The two brothers spend the next few days together trying to figure out what to do with Giorgia, eventually losing her along the way and separating from each other. Nicola continues on to Norway, where he becomes a hippie, working for a lumberjack company, before returning to Italy to help with the Florence flood of 1966. When Matteo loses track of Giorgia, he immediately goes to enlist in the army and plans to one day become a police officer, where he can prevent injustices, like the one that happened to Giorgia, from happening. He succeeds, is enlisted in the military and later becomes a member of the police. Nicola abandons his hippie/drifter ways and makes the decision to become a psychiatrist, where he can help patients with similar needs to Giorgia. From there, we follow the two brothers through the decades, their family and friends and triumphs & trials.

I had this film pegged from the beginning. I was about to watch a six hour film that followed a family, tracing their lives in Italy and covering their marriages, deaths, births and all the other events that make-up a family's life. I had high hopes for this one. I figured anything that was worth taking up six hours of my time, had to be a high candidate to receive a '10/10' review. So imagine my disappointment when I realized that I wasn't going to be giving this film a '10/10'. It's not that I didn't like the film, it was actually really good. I will admit that, early on I wasn't too crazy about it and couldn't erase the thought that the story wasn't shaping up to be something that was worth dedicating six hours too. However, as time passed by (at a nice pace - I'll give it that) the characters grew on me and I became more and more interested in how their lives would culminate. In fact, I would find it rather difficult to believe anyone who didn't become attached to these characters after witnessing their lives unfold for this number of hours. It's extremely easy to get attached to characters over the course of a ninety minute film, let alone a 360 minute one. Luigi Lo Cascio was a marvelous actor, who had a real way with the screen and his character was extremely likeable, to the point where I just couldn't help but care about him.

It's the type of film that spans decades, the type where you can think back to the beginning of the film and those events seem so long ago, because the structure of the film makes those events seem like they've actually happened. Enough time is spent with each period that you really get the feeling that you've spent forty years with these people. It wasn't blow-away good or anything, but I'd recommend it to even the most casual of movie goer, because it's not a hard one to like and I think it's going to be a really easy film for people to warm up to.

RATING: 7.5/10  Good, but long and that's the bottom line. Too long? Not really. It never really drags or gives you those "JUST END!!!" moments. My main problem was with the predictable story and structure of the whole affair.


June 9, 2012  5:55pm

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