Friday, November 25, 2011

The Best of Youth



If you've seen the movie The Best of Youth then the picture above will mean something to you. And if you haven't then I urge you to see it. It won't be easy but do try to track this film down and watch it with someone you love. It's one of the most wonderful movies I've ever seen. In fact, it's more than a movie. It's an experience. I decided to write a post about it because this film deserves a wider audience.




Oh, if we only knew the treasures we have unopened in our own homes! Just like books, there are DVD movies I've bought that I fully intended to watch but somehow they end up sitting on the shelf gathering dust. The Best of Youth or La meglio gioventù (Italy, 2003) is one such film. It has sat unwatched for six years. I was holidaying in Spain when it was being shown in a few movie theaters. Reviews were stellar so when I came across the DVD a year or so later, I didn't hesitate to buy it. Mind you this is a 4-disc set because it's a six and a half hour long film. A daunting length I know so I put it aside and quickly forgot about it.

Did I mention that I recently started a Movie Club? We've covered two excellent films so far that have provoked a lot of discussion. The Secret in Their Eyes (Argentina, 2010) and Caché (France, 2005). We assign one film a month and people see it on their own. We then meet over lunch or dinner to discuss. So far so good. So in an effort to find more films, I thought I'd finally watch The Best of Youth. Last Sunday night, my husband and I decided to watch a DVD and I popped this in. The fact that it was more than six hours long made me say, 'if we don't like it we can stop and watch something else."  But in just a few minutes we were engaged, then riveted and then the first of four discs ended. The next day was Monday and in spite of our busy day we found that the characters had somehow flitted in and out of our thoughts. So that night we happily sat down and watched disc 2 and by the end we were in love with the characters.

The story itself seems so simple. It follows the lives of two brothers and their families from 1966 to the present day. Forty years of their lives with key historical Italian events in the background. I admit that it's not a plot that makes me want to run out and see the film and that's probably another reason why it sat on the shelf for so long. It's brilliant because of the wonderful script, casting and direction. Director  Marco Tullio Giordana films in such a way that makes the viewer a part of the whole sweeping saga. When things happened to them, I honestly felt like it was happening to me and my own.

The Best of Youth is beautiful, warm and humane and I grew to really love the Carati family especially Matteo and Nicola. It's about life, love, family and friendship. There is just so much depth, honesty and wisdom in this film that I don't think I can write a review that it deserves. We cried, smiled and laughed several times and by the end my husband and I would have gladly sat for another six hours. The casting was fantastic especially those of Luigi Lo Cascio and Alessio Boni. Both are Italian actors that I've never heard of but I'll definitely try to look up their other movies now.

If you are lucky enough to find a copy of The Best of Youth then do watch it please. You'll never forget it unless you have a heart of stone.

3 comments:

  1. I'm both a book and movie lover, and I've appreciated your detailed review of this film. I'm afraid I haven't heard of it since we don't get to see many foreign films here in Canada. But I'm sure you must be one film buff to watch a 6.5 hr. long film! :) A while back I went on an "Ingmar Bergman Binge" and watched 9 of his films in 2 weeks. Now I'm on a "Woody Allen Binge". I love to read movie posts like this one, and discuss them. I admit not many book bloggers are also film buffs. Keep them coming, Mrs. B! BTW, as both a book and film lover, I try to stay on top of what they're adapting. If you're interested, I've just posted a few lists of upcoming books being turned into films. Just thought you might like to check them out.

    Arti

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  2. I just finished watching this movie and it is such a wonderful story. I watched Part 1 in 3x1 hour sessions and then completed part 2 is 2 sittings...could not wait to get home from work each time to watch it.
    I laughed and cried many times throughout the film and as I am of Italian descent, it really struck a chord with me.
    I highly recommend it.
    Daniel

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  3. Just watched the first half on cable - I think it was on Starz. What a fantastic film! Perfect casting and a gripping story. Once you get hooked, it's impossible to forget the characters. Highly recommended.
    David

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