Old Age in Cinema: A Reevaluation of Sorrentino’s Youth

Proceedings of The International Conference on New Trends in Social Sciences

Year: 2019

DOI: https://www.doi.org/10.33422/ntss.2019.08.489

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Old Age in Cinema: A Reevaluation of Sorrentino’s Youth

Ephraim David



Paolo Sorrentino’s film Youth has been severely criticized by professional reviewers for a series of alleged faults. This review attempts to use a multi-disciplinary approach in order to challenge the validity of most criticisms and to elucidate the importance of this film as a work of art focused on the problems of aging. The discussion stresses the binary structure of the plot and the film’s intensive use of dichotomies, such as memory/amnesia, speech/silence, ambition/apathy, divine beauty/grotesque ugliness, and especially youth/old age. The paper also brings into high relief the prevalent melancholic atmosphere of this film, which conveys through a long series of related metaphors, associations and sounds, the general impression of a cinematic elegy (or threnody). Other topics discussed include the deep influence of classical tradition on Sorrentino’s methodology, patterns of nonverbal communication and the artistic manipulation of nudity. Far from being an “emotionally paralyzed” and “simplistic” film (as many critics have asserted), in my view Youth is a sophisticated, subtle and profoundly humane depiction of old age, particularly as far as artists are concerned. It is typical of Sorrentino’s preoccupation with aging, as reflected by some of his other films as well, e.g. The Great Beauty and the more recent Loro.

Keywords: Melancholy; classical tradition; music; emotions.