Youth | AFF

Kernel Jordan, our South Australian Kernel, represented Salty at the Adelaide Film Festival this year. Adelaide Film Festival ran from October 15th-25th – all finished now. For Jordan’s fourth film from the festival following THE ASSASSINEL CLUB and DEATHGASM, we have YOUTH, s splendid film from Oscar winning director Paolo Sorrentino. This is a film I am dying to see, it looks spectacular and I have to be honest, the poster pisses me off, it completely misrepresents the film and makes it look like a bumbling comedy of two old men after boobs, believe me, watch the trailer following Jordan’s review, it is much much more. I will leave the rest for Jordan to explain. All the best………….JK.


Youth Movie Poster image
Youth | Adelaide Film Festival | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Movie Poster image



I didn’t see Paolo Sorrentino’s Oscar-winning The Great Beauty as so many others have, though I have read enough about it to know that I should probably see it some time soon. Knowing this, I was glad to see that the closing film for the Adelaide Film Festival was Paolo’s next film and his second excursion into the English language. This film, titled YOUTH, stars Harvey Keitel and an actor who I will watch in anything, no matter the story – Michael Caine, even if he has been phoning in some performances recently.

YOUTH is more of a character and relationship study than a story though, as the narrative is quite thin but also is thoughtful and leaves one contemplating the meaning of certain conversations. It certainly offers a lot to take home and chew on, and it is not predictable. For most of the film I felt I was waiting for something, a twist or event to change the situation. When it did though it felt fair too late, I certainly did not see it coming, but my father missed it entirely!


youth movie image
Youth | Adelaide Film Festival | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Movie image


The narrative, is like I said, simple: two men are “vacationing” at a Swiss hotel. Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) is a retired composer who is being pestered by the Royal family to perform his most famous piece. His answer is a stern no though we don’t get a glimpse into the reasons for his refusal until late into the movie. Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) is an aging director, constantly reassuring himself that he hasn’t lost his ability to make films. His younger entourage are struggling to find an ending for Mick’ movie, a self-labelled testament. Some of the suggestions given are laughable and reflect the reality that Mick’s talent is fading, as much as he refuses to admit it. His young companions are good for some laughs, though these characters aren’t really focused on or built in any way, which was fine by me as they were typical Hollywood people. Perhaps their small involvement was intentional.

The best aspect of this film by far is the chemistry shared between Caine and Keitel. Their interactions are funny, heartfelt, sad; an array of emotions are shared between them despite the fact that for their sixty year friendship they have only told each other the good things, the positives of their respective lives. It is on this holiday that the two not only become closer friends and share what they haven’t before, but more importantly they begin to explore themselves, perhaps more than they wanted.


Youth Movie image Rachel Weisz
Youth | Adelaide Film Festival | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Movie image Rachel Weisz


The meat of the film, and the reason for the title, is theme of growing old, as one character is a retired composer who has lost his wife, while the other an aging director who is losing grip on his self-awareness. Many conversations between the two again offer a surprising amount of laughs, despite the fact the two are talking about their reality: that they are getting old, that death is not so far away. The script is fantastically written as the dialogue is sharp and witty, while the acting is impeccable, especially Michael Caine, though I will freely admit that I am biased. Keitel is brilliant also.

We also have Ballinger’s daughter as an important part of the film, Lena (a fantastic Rachel Weisz). A theme of regret washes over some of the scenes she is in, especially when talking to her father. We laugh at their conversations, we cry, but more importantly we get to know Lena; an extension of her father. She also doesn’t have much of a character arc, unlike the two main characters, but this can be forgiven.

Throughout the film, many seemingly random shots and scenes take place, often showing younger beauties bathing in the hotel, or a young employee dancing to a game on her TV. There is also a scene where this young employee is massaging Ballinger, and again the script is well written as they have a candid conversation about the sensation of touch. These random scenes and that massage scene in particular told me that we are all human, that the young and the old can relate to one another if we really try. Some of these scenes, including bare-chested beauties bathing in the hotel, are quite heavy handed though.


Youth movie Michael Caine image
Youth | Adelaide Film Festival | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Movie image of Michael Caine composing to nature


The pace of the film is very slow; a lot of patience is required to watch YOUTH. The narrative as I have already mentioned is thin-to-non-existent, and excluding the two main characters, none of the characters are developed in any meaningful way. But the themes explored, the quality of the acting and the witty dialogue, not to mention the emotional heft of the film, left me leaving a satisfied customer.

Not something spectacular, but a solid movie that packs an emotional punch while maintaining its witty and funny dialogue for the entire duration. Those wanting an action film or a film driven by a story, steer clear of this one. If however you enjoy dialogue driven drama, this is a movie to see.


3 and a Half Pops



Jordan Dodd is an aspiring novelist hailing from Adelaide, Australia. His first book is a chronicle of his experiences in a rehab centre that was more of a cult than anything else, and his goal is to finish it and pitch it to someone who matters. It can be found here. He also enjoys writing about film, which is probably his biggest obsession (apart from writing). When not writing for Salty Popcorn Jordan has his own website – he can be contacted via


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