Music Composed by: David Lang
Starring: Michael Caine, Rachel Weisz, Harvey Keitel, Jane Fonda, Mădălina Diana Ghenea; Paul Dano.
This is a quirky, life affirming movie that goes deeper than expected: a meandering journey of many moments caught of people coming to terms with their lives.
Opening with a band playing, a close up of a girl singing while slowly revolving with the background of characters blurred, sets up the theme of the film – music being the soundtrack that gives cohesion to the life of the main character, Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine), the retired maestro taking a holiday at a Swedish Health Spa.
After being asked to conduct at Prince Phillip’s birthday at the Queen’s request, the film follows Fred after his refusal, revealing his reason of refusal while showing his character through his interactions with his daughter and assistant, Leda (Rachel Weisz), his best friend, Mick (Harvy Keitel) and the famous actor on holiday, Jimmy Tree (Paul Dano).
The director and writer of this film, Paolo Sorrentino, has created a sensory experience for the audience: Great loves, music, beauty, art, bubbles, the bells around cows’ necks ringing, wild flowers, snow, levitating, hot baths, blood tests, communicating through touch, smoking and sometimes just talking. The character, Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel), an aging writer and director in conversation with his best friend, Fred, describing the various nude scenes so well: “There’s the ugly, the beautiful and the inbetween who are just cute.”
There were some beautiful truths spoken here. One of many spoken by Mick, “I have to believe everything in order to make things up,” gives a simplicity to the individual experience.
I liked how the film scratched the surface of the mundane to show the real beauty of the pain of life. The pain of growing and struggling to make something of ourselves. The misunderstandings between people.
Many moments of the characters getting to know themselves and others are pieced together into a not always cohesive storyline. The momentum of the film sometimes lost when caught in the space between these moments. But what was lost in cohesion was made up by the beauty of the scenery, well thought-out camera angles and some light cheeky humour.
Not a perfect film but some thought provoking moments, some great dialogue delivered by some great actors.