Best Of Youth


Movie Review by Lisa Henshall

Starring: Luigi Lo Cascio, Alessio Boni, Adriana Asti, Sonia Bergamasco
Director: Marco Tullio Giordana

This film feels like an OUR FRIENDS IN THE NORTH but for Italians. Whereas the British TV Series was intense and gripping but with a wet and windy British edge, THE BEST OF YOUTH is as intense and gripping in its characters, and its political and social backdrop… but this time we have more sunshine, fabulous Italian scenery and some, frankly, rather gorgeous actors!

THE BEST OF YOUTH takes us through the lives of two brothers from Rome: Nicola (Luigi Lo Cascio) and Matteo (Alessio Boni) and their family, friends and lovers. The film plots a course from 1966 when the boys are fledgling students with dreams of changing the world and taking in most of the key political and social changes that have affected Italy in the last 40 years, concluding in 2002 with their offspring as fledgling students starting the process all over again.

Nichola and Matteo’s lives are forever transformed after an encounter with the beautiful mental patient Giulia (Sonia Bergamasco) in the summer of ’66. Both men are frustrated by their inability to help her escape the cruelty of the institution she is kept in and afterwards, they each set out to find their place in the world. Matteo (the brooding, tragic poet) joins the army as a means of channelling the anger and inadequacy he feels, while Nicola (the academic, ladies man) trains to become a psychiatrist in order to put a stop to institutions like the one Giulia was kept in.

We take in sex, love, death, political intrigue, paid assassins, student riots, unions, family quarrels, the mafia, etc… and it’s an amazing, wonderful, uplifting, compelling experience. You’ll laugh and cry many times over, so don’t forget to bring a box of tissues! The acting is superb from nearly every member of the cast, with stand-out performances from the two leads and those who appreciate the finer male form will not be disappointed by the absolutely stunning Alessio Boni (all men should be that beautiful)!

However, it’s an oddity as a film because of its length of nearly 6 hours. It’s being shown in two parts theatrically but it still seems more suited to a mini-series for discerning TV audiences. Perhaps one of the larger TV broadcasters will snap it up as a serialisation in the not too distant future – here’s hoping anyway as it would be a shame for people to miss out on this utterly absorbing drama.

5 out of 6 stars