I guess everyone would have waited with bated breaths at what Francis Ford Coppola would have presented as his first directorial effort after 10 years. I for one, enticed by the trailer, thought that Youth Without Youth would have been a decent force to be reckoned with, given its lush visuals and somewhat a compelling storyline as presented, but alas what had become of that potential?
In many ways, this movie was lazy, and its convoluted plot being unable to make any headway, being just a plain bore, totally smashed any notions of this being a grand masterpiece. In fact, when the end credits rolled, I wondered just what had Coppola smoked in order to come up with something so seriously horrendous and unpalatable? If I were cruel, I could've interpreted this as one huge dream sequence from start to end, and you know just how cheap a narrative that would be.
Youth Without Youth, based on the novel by Mircea Eliade, tells of a story of an aged linguist Dominic (Tim Roth), who is on a suicidal mission, only to have it thwarted, sort of, in advance by higher powers. He gets electrocuted by lightning, but survives and recuperates at a hospital. But it seems that that little jolt of electricity begins to rejuvenate his tired body cells, and he gets to his surprise, younger. Hence the title, sort of, as his prowess of reading by waving his hand as if a practitioner of the Jedi Mind Trick, utterly makes him the most learned man in the universe. But of course I am exaggerating here.
Set during WWII, this kind of capabilities sets off the alarm bells of the Third Reich, and needless to say, he's the target of some serious reverse engineering to find out the secret behind his fountain of youth. Embroiled into some spy versus spy stuff, with the introduction of Veronica (Alexandra Maria Lara), a spy who resembled his lost sweetheart, they romance each other, then go jet setting round the world, and truly, there's where the movie lost its plot, somewhere in Timbuktu, especially when lightning does strike twice and she blabbers expertly in Sanskrit, and has an adverse effect on her age. Seriously, everyone in the movie should be struck by lightning, and you can build a tower of babel in the heart of nowhere.
Granted, the cinematography was lush, but everything else was just plain boring. It tried to be intellectual with Dominic's quest to discover the origins of language, though some may argue that it's quite a focused romance story and the likes, I'd say bollocks to that, as it's quite clearly an attempt to be arty, but fell flat to become farty. You can sense the load of pretentiousness throughout the film, in trying to be far more than it actually is, and junked common sense for an elitist "so you're too dense to understand the film".
Tim Roth could have saved the movie, if not for his charismatic presence in becoming a Smeagol/Gollum character with his Dominic engaging himself in conversation for the most parts. But sorry, Andy Serkis had already done that to perfection, and through CGI to boot.
Youth Without Youth had potential, and if you're as equally convinced about that as I was when you watch the trailer, my advise is to stick that few minutes to memory, as the actual film is overwrought with elements that bore, and an unforgivable convoluted plot heading nowhere other than that which spells disaster.