Best of Youth

I so enjoyed watching this over the last couple evenings that I’ve got to recommend it. There’s nothing particularly interesting about the fim from a theorist’s angle, or a cinematographer’s angle, even a scriptwriter’s angle. This is not a film of twists, of action, or surprises. Yet the characters, performances, and events work extremely well together to cover 40 years of Italian history as seen through the eyes of people who in some cases chose opposing sides. And it takes a film of this magnitude, perhaps, to evoke the emotional range and depth that this film does.
It’s a mover; have your tissues handy. I think I might have resolved some parental issues of my own last night watching this one!

3 Replies to “Best of Youth”

  1. it doesn’t do anything specifically to blow you away, but every aspect of it, from direction to cinematography to acting to writing, is done so expertly that you almost forget you’re watching characters in a movie.

    personally i think it comes as close to creating real characters as any film in the last 10 years.

    but yeah, it’s a tearjerker

  2. I agree that Best In Youth is a characterization film and done very realistically, but it is much more than that. The characters represent everyone; they are archetypes for all of us. All walks of life are represented, from the insane to the supposed sane, the political to the ideal, the corrupt capitalist to the legitimate, etc. Yet all are equal–each has to face themselves and the reality of the human condition and human existence, and the result depends on their individual choices. No one is better than the other: there is no absolute good, and there is no absolute sane. Each of us has potential for good and evil, strength and weakness, morality and immorality, and acting sane or acting crazy. What’s more, the filmmaker goes further to tell us that there is no clear line between crazy and not crazy, immoral and moral, male friendship and homesexuality, love and perversion, corruption and good business, curing and torturing, etc. because many of these things are determined by society. So, we as humans don’t truly understand ourselves, and we need to go back to Greek Mythology to try to understand ourselves, which is why it was created in the first place and why the characters reference it so much in the film.

    Saying the film is nothing special regarding its cinematography is also something I have to wholeheartedly disagree. Every single scene in the film, even if some are conventional or seem overdone, has meaning. In fact, many of the scenes are done like paintings. Here are some examples. The scene where Gillia leaves Nicola shows a contrast of blue and red. Blue represents Nicola: strong, patient, kind, non-judgemental, ideal, while red represents Gillia’s anger at the world (and herself we will later see), and the danger in her political plans. Unlike Nicola, she is looking outward for morality, structure and meaning and is afraid to look within herself and open up emotionally to herself and the world. She is afraid to be vulnerable, which will lead to either a life of death (like Matteo’s mom before she came around to see her grandson), or death itself (Matteo’s suicide). The scene where Nicola goes to the photo gallery to see Matteo’s picture is set up like a graveyard or tomb: underground, gray and black, people dressed in black, people walking picture to picture and staring (like walking to graves and reading the tombstones). When he sees Matteo’s picture and smiles, it is because it is the first time he understands Matteo’s struggle, but in fact it is the first time he looks within himself. The struggle is to want to love but to be tempted to commit to or give in to the bad things that can happen in life. The fingers cover the eyes, which is to the soul, because not all of us want to face our dark sides and be vulnerable to the world. It is an insane person, Geogia, who has to convince Nicola to look within. A third scene done like the painting is the scene with Matteo and the transsexual prostitute. We say that Matteo may have a sick past, but we also see his warped perception of love–taking a necklace from a transsexual prostitute to give to the girl he cares about. We also see the strange line between male friendship and love, and homosexuality through the prostitute as a symbol. Again, all done subtlely. The last example I will provide regarding a mise-e-scene is the scene where Georgia leaves the institution for the second time. Dark and mysterious is the expressive world according to Georgia’s perception, and the train a temptation to live independently and free of her past, to follow her own journey, but one too dangerous for her to take for the time being.

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