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November 24, 2007

Youth Without Youth

YouthwithoutyouthFrancis Coppola’s gasping adaptation of Mircea Eliade’s out-of-print novella should provide the tipping point at which audiences start recognize the exasperated genre of magical realism that has crept into modern film vernacular with a vengeance. Never before has so much plot (the synopsis took five pages in the press notes) rendered so little narrative movement. Suicidal 70-year-old Dominic Matei (Tim Roth) is interrupted from his 1938 Easter Sunday plans in Romania by a lightening bolt that strikes him as he crosses a street. The event has the unlikely result of making Matei younger by 30 years, and it isn’t long before the Nazis are trying to kidnap the most valuable man in the world. Dominic discovers an evil twin to whom he frequently seeks advice in the midst of finishing his life’s work, a study of the origin of languages. Enter Veronica (Alexandra Maria Lara) who suffers a lightening strike that causes her to identify herself as "Rupini," a 7th-century disciple of Chandrakirti who speaks in ancient tongues that Matei records before realizing that she is aging at a faster rate due to his presence. For a movie that Coppola envisioned as salvation for his waning career, "Youth Without Youth" is akin to watching a cat chase its tail. It’s cute for the first minute, then it’s time for something else.

Rated R. 121 mins. (D) (One Star)



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