Sumptuously photographed philosophical discussion about aging, art, relationships, et al. All the things people like to wax poetic about.
If there is a story structure, its hidden well beneath the eccentric characters who are spending time at a resort in the Swiss alps. Our primary protagonist is a former composer (Michael Caine) looking back on his life and not particularly wanting to remember it — or anyone else to remember it. His best friend is a film director (Harvey Keitel) working out his latest script with his writing team. One wants to leave his past behind; the other thrives only on the accomplishments of his past, and can’t face his life without continuing.
The difference between this an similar films is that our characters aren’t trying to relive their youth. They’re just trying to find meaning in it.
Surrounding our two primaries are a team of incredibly strong actors including Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano, and a frighteningly good Jane Fonda in what amounts to a cameo.
Director Sorrentino stays out of the way of his actors, and lets cinematographer Luca Bagazzi capture their performances – along with the breathtaking scenery. One particular scene during a spa mud treatment has Weisz, as Caine’s daughter, emotionally lambasting him for his emotional distance and past infidelities. She’s covered in mud, so there is none of the typical physical choices an actor would turn to. The camera remains motionless on Weisz’s face capturing her inner pain.
And this is about the amount of energy you can expect through the entire film. It’s about looking into oneself. The exception is a hilariously over-the-top music video from pop star Paloma Faith.
Slow-paced, but deep. And absolutely stunning to look at.