> Volume 6 > Number 24


Marco Tullio Giordana

Luigi Lo Cascio
Alessio Boni
Adriana Asti
Sonia Bergmasco
Fabrizio Gifuni
Jasmine Trinca
Camilla Filippi

Release: N/A

The Best of Youth


Not since Ettore Scola presented a commanding and seemingly complete analysis of post-World War II Italy in We All Loved Each Other So Much, has an Italian filmmaker said so much about the country that has seen more examples of fascism, communism, despotism, and terrorism in the last 75 years than any other Western democracy. Scola’s impression upon the Italian people to consider their own renunciation of the leftist Resistance fighters who ended Mussolini’s control was amazingly complex and concise. His characters and their move from Marxist ideals to bourgeois comfort came as a thesis on the Italian complacency of the 1970s.

Equally as complex, and, though over six hours in duration, just as concise, The Best of Youth picks up where Scola stopped. Director Marco Tullio Giordana contemplates the next generation, those who took part in the social upheaval in the 1960s and then fell into baby-boomer-like contentment through their own social vices. The central characters are brothers Matteo (Boni) and Nicola Carati (Lo Cascio), and the film begins with their decision to travel following college exams. They are the prototypical ‘60s youth, glorifying the fraternal/communal atmosphere of a Europe preparing to disown the years of De Gaulle, Adenauer, and Andreotti rule. These are the outward-bound equivalents of Bertolucci’s The Dreamers, and their passion for the cause is muddled by youthful pleasures and the impractical whims that take over them.

When Matteo fails in an attempt to save a young woman from the government-accepted electroshock therapy, he breaks away from the leftist theories Nicola continues to support. As Matteo walls himself from the rest of the family by becoming part of the government’s machinery -- a police officer often sent to keep the piece during leftist riots -- Nicola becomes part of the national enemy, a Marxist whose academic cause blinds him of the impending presence of the terrorist Red Brigade. Only when his wife Giulia (Bergamasco) begins to rationalize the utlra-Marxist terrorism that lead to the death of Moro, does Nicola begin to recline into the middle-class lifestyle the rest of the film affirms.

More than Scola, Giordana isn’t welling up so much agitation at a changed generation. His is a more melodramatic story, one that’s languidly told like a family tome (think Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude with less mysticism and more good humor). The Best of Youth offers the generations of the Carati family and their friends with an intimacy earned by hours of character development. Originally created as a TV miniseries, the pacing of the work is allowed to freely coalesce with the historicism it documents.

Michael Camino’s The Deer Hunter worked on a similar plane, though its three hours only felt like six. Here the six hours (divided into two parts with an intermission) breeze by, and when the finale comes with some of the most well-earned machinations I’ve ever seen in a narrative film, the impression is that we’ve only spent a couple hours listening to a proud old man reminiscing over the intentions of his youth, the disappointments of his aging, and the succeeding generations who are now reliving the cycle all over again

©2004, David L. Blaylock,, 11 June 2004