Michael Caine delivers a stunning but subtle performance as a man existing in everyday mediocrity but hampered by his role as national treasure. Fred (Caine) is are tired composer staying in an Alpine spa resort where he is visited by his old friend Mick and his adult daughter Lena. Whilst Mick is plotting his comeback movie, Fred is ostensibly withdrawn from professional life, although he keeps receiving repeat visits from the Queen’s emissary to request a performance of his Simple Songs.
The two men muse on past mistakes and the tragedy of aging, wallowing in self-pity against a stunning backdrop and amongst a superficially sensational supporting cast (including cameos from Diego Maradona and Paloma Faith), whilst their conversations are frequently interrupted by surreal tableaux involving the other guests. These elements combine in a stylish, gentle contemplation on the process of ageing but beyond Caine there is little connection with the characters. Sorrentino’s film is more style than substance, but it is beautiful nonetheless.
1. Still from Paolo Sorrention’s Youth (2015). Courtesy of StudioCanal.