Pitu reviews the decorated 2003 Italian epic
I remember the first time I heard Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake as a recalcitrant teenager. As I sat, surly and hunched, on my father's armchair, I heard the the most heart-achingly beautiful strains of the oboe depicting Odette's glimpse of the Prince by moonlight. Minutes later, rebellion forgotten, I had been transported to a world where love and sorrow co-existed, and the world was beautiful despite it.
It is music that has stayed with me ever since.
I experienced the same emotional roller coaster this weekend when I watched The Best of Youth, a 2003 Italian miniseries depicting the lives of the Carati family through four decades. What can I say? The same sense of being swept away, the highs of success and joy, the exuberance of first love, the familiarity of a family bickering at the dinner table, and the same murky depths of the human heart. The rage of losing a loved one, the anguish over past errors, and the somber realization that despite it all, the human spirit cannot, and must not shatter.
We delude ourselves into thinking we know people so well, but how well do we really know them? As I traced the lives of brothers Matteo and Nicola, I came away thinking I knew these two, as well as I can presume to know anybody, I guess. But not all is gloom and melancholy in this haunting drama.
The cities of Italy come alive in this series- Roma in her gritty valor, Firenze in her sepia charm, Torino in her unabashed rebellion. These aren't backdrops, so much as they are witnesses to the lives of these characters. Alessio Boni as Matteo and Luigi Lo Cascio as Nicola will hypnotize you.
As the credits rolled, I bid adieu to the Caratis much as I had said my goodbyes to Odette and Siegfried so many years ago. These are people you will never forget, these are stories you will never forget.
The quiet beauty of this film came through for me in the scene when Nicola says to his daughter Sara:
“Are you happy now?”
“Of course I am!”
“Then, now is the time to be generous”
Do yourself a favor. Beg, borrow or steal this DVD. It is an experience you will cherish for years to come.
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