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YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH

Director: FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA

U.S.A.-GERMANY-ITALY-FRANCE-ROMANIA • 2007 COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 124 MIN


FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA’S FIRST FILM IN 10 YEARS, ‘YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH’ IS ABOUT DOMINIC MATEI, AN ELDERLY ROMANIAN PROFESSOR OF LINGUISTICS WHO, AFTER BEING STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, BECOMES YOUNG AGAIN.

Though Matei, played by Tim Roth, retains a septuagenarian’s memories and experiences, his body, restored to 30-year-old fighting trim, is mysteriously immune to the effects of time. The professor’s condition is presented as a medical curiosity and a metaphysical conundrum—like the novella by Mircea Eliade on which it is based, Coppola’s movie is a complex, symbol-laden meditation on the nature of chronology, language and human identity—but it also speaks to a familiar and widespread longing. What if, without losing the hard-won wisdom of age, you could go back and start again?

The plot of ‘Youth Without Youth’ is an otherworldly blend of moods and genres. At first Matei’s story, which begins in Bucharest in 1938, seems like a World War II-era spy thriller. But the political intrigue dissipates once Matei falls in love with a young woman who seems able to travel backward in time, and the movie settles into a curious blend of romance, mystery and philosophical speculation.

In its calm, formal assurance, in the way it effortlessly tackles difficult shot sequences and narrative tangles, in its almost classical elegance and its reflective tone, Youth Without Youth is evidently the work of a master. But in other ways the movie feels like the work of a much younger man. It bristles with restless, perhaps overreaching intellectual ambition, and without being overtly autobiographical, it feels intensely and earnestly personal.—A. O. Scott, ‘The New York Times’.

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