In the award-winning epic tradition of The Godfather and Cold Mountain, The Best Of Youth has wowed critics and earned honors at numerous fi lm festivals worldwide. As Italy explodes in an era of social unrest, a single ill-fated incident sends the lives of equally idealistic brothers Nicola and Matteo Carati careening in opposite directions. Divided by politics but bonded by blood, the next 40 years will find the brothers' divergent paths intersecting through some of the most tumultuous events in recent history! A stunning cinematic achievement - you don't want to miss this incredible motion picture!
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368 minutes of Italian TV miniseries--yes, that is indeed six hours' worth--comes unspooling in The Best of Youth, a stirring and beautiful experience. The film needs its running time to immerse us in the world of the Carati family from 1966 to near the present day. Two brothers are the primary focus: Nicola (Luigi Lo Cascio), a responsible medical student, and Matteo (Alessio Boni), a troubled soldier. After a youthful road trip, their paths diverge, but each is carried along by the changing, sometimes violent, political weather of Italy in the 1970s and '80s. Life issues surge and ebb, with the increasing sense that Matteo is a lost soul, beyond even the help of the luminous woman (unforgettable Maya Sansa) who comes into his life.
Truth be told, The Best of Youth has some of the limitations of made-for-TV fare, from the simplicity of its themes to its cheap-looking makeup. (Those beards are not convincing.) But by the time you've spent a couple of hours with these characters, you're deeply invested in their joys and sorrows. At that point the measured pace begins to feel like the rhythm of life, and the people onscreen a mirror of ourselves. It's probably true that the cultural references and specific historic events will have more resonance for Italians than other viewers, but everything translates. Director Marco Tullo Giordana maintains the tone by allowing details to accumulate, and the location shooting, including a stint at the cinematically rich island of Stromboli, is consistently rich (his sampling of the music from Jules and Jim feels like a shortcut somehow, but who could argue that the music isn't perfectly in key with the melancholy mood?). The final act delivers an emotional coup de grace that has been thoroughly earned. And you'll feel like you earned it, too, having spent six hours with this moving film. --Robert Horton
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