An elegant (spa) hotel at the foot of the Alps. Illustrious guests, fantastic services and a stunning landscape. The two central characters are a retired composer and a once-successful film director fretting over his new film. Old age. Mortality. But the situation has even more excitement in store, as Youth – and the hotel – are a meeting place for three generations. Fallible bodies in full flower. Every one of them carrying luggage laden with doubts and hopes. For no matter how isolated and protected the world of the hotel seems, the psychological wounds suffered in the world outside demand treatment just as much as the ageing joints and prostates. Youth is a meditation on the beginning and the end. And about whether memory and the past are ballast pulling us down or perhaps things that are capable of anchoring our personas in the present as well. And can one draw strength from youth? From the desire to create and the illusion of artistic creativity? Do miracles exist? Are they possible? It is a complex and exciting equation.
And like in Fellini’s 8½, a film constructed around a crisis of artistic creativity, there again arises of the question of who and what it is that we belong to. Is one able to redeem the lives of others or one’s own life? Once again, Sorrentino is proud to acknowledge that he is following in Fellini’s footsteps, while also making it clear that the work is also very much about the present. And he surrounds the two protagonists in the story with other superb characters. With tiny and bitter fates. He evokes Fellini this time too: Youth echoes with 8½. There is, however, no issue at all of plagiarism. It is worth one’s while watching both films back to back.