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La Meglio Gioventù

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I thought I would kick off the Slow Travel February Blogging Challenge with a review of a film, The Best of Youth (La Meglio Gioventù,) a 6-hour production that originally aired in Italy in 2003 on Rai Uno. It has generated a great deal of buzz on Slow Travel, and elsewhere, so I recently rented the DVD version (with English subtitles) and was hooked!

(Before I go any further, I should explain the Blogging Challenge. For the second year in a row, a group of Slow Travelers have decided to blog each day for the month. The list of bloggers taking part is on the right side of the page, beneath the challenge banner created by blogging queen Kim of What I Really Think http://www.slowtrav.com/blog/kim/)

To return to La Meglio Gioventù. The drama follows the lives of members of a middle-class Italian family, the Caratis, focusing particularly on two brothers, Matteo (played by Alessio Boni, lower photo) and Nicola (Luigi Lo Cascio, with beard and Matteo in the upper photo) as well as their circle of friends and lovers.

By following the brothers' lives as they grow and mature, Best of Youth documents a similar evolution in Italian society. The story begins in the 1960s, when the brothers are on the verge of manhood, with hopes of improving their lives and their country; and winds down in the early 2000s, when their circle has dealt with many of the disappointments and challenges that come with maturity.

Turning points in their lives coincide with dramatic shifts in Italian society. The brothers and friends scatter early in their university days, but come together to help Florence cope with the devastating floods in 1966. An involvement with the terrorist Red Brigade in the 1970s illustrates the perils that face the family circle directly, and an evolving Italian society in general. Tragic deaths marks changing eras.

At first, I found director Marco Tullio Giordano's film rather hard to get into -- its opening in the early 1960s put me off because I'm really tired of movies about that era and the many cliches it evokes. But it didn't take long for me to become engrossed in the characters' lives as these unfolded.

Boni is fascinating as Matteo, a very angry man who hates no one so much as himself (we never understand quite why, which is actually rather true to life!) Certainly, no one around him really understands Matteo -- not even his brother, Nicola, who, as played by Lo Cascio, is a very kind, gentle psychiatrist, almost too good to be true. But you love him anyway!

I enjoyed my time with these people and only wish there was a followup (Best of Retirement?) It really was a fascinating family tale.

Comments (12)

I saw this movie a few years ago on RAI International, in Italian with no subtitles. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm a big fan of Luigi lo Cascio. I've seen a few of his movies but my favorite is I Cento Passi, filmed in Sicily and based on a true story and Luce dei miei occhi. He was also in a movie about the last days of Aldo Moro. Very interesting from a historical perspective.

I absolutely LOVED this movie. I think it took me about 40 minutes to really get into and then I didn't want it to end! I would also love to see a follow up.

I just signed up for Netflix so that I can watch more Italian films... I'll go and put this on the list.

I have to say I'm glad that I didn't know about the February blogging challenge; I may have been tempted to try it. But I tell you what I will do, I'll try to comment on yours and some of the others each day!

Dana

Oh I love love love love this movie!! (Or series.) I saw it in two installments in the movie theater and thought it was the most moving thing ever. A fascinating look at modern Italian history and amazing characters.

Thanks for this review Sandra...I'm intrigued and going to put it in my netflix queue right now. Those actors are handsome!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, I enjoyed reading your review of this movie. The characters sound interesting. I bet I will be able to find it on Netflix. I will have to check it out too.

Thanks for writing this review!

Too bad to have missed this, Boni è davvero bono!

I am an Italy addict, and I have not seen the movie, shame on me. I better fix that.

sandrac:

Wow, Maria, your Italian must be very, very good! I'm also becoming a fan of Luigi lo Cascio, I thought he did a fabulous job in Best of Youth. I'm now going to look for the other three films you've mentioned (I've been very intrigued by the Aldo Moro story and what really happened there!) Thanks for the ideas.

Girasoli, Chiocciola -- it really was riveting, wasn't it? The characters, the times, the situations were all quite believable and dramatic in an everyday kind of way.

Annie, Kathy and Dana, I hope you can find the DVDs, they really are worth renting. (And the men are really goodlooking!!) And Dana, maybe you'll want to join our next monthlong blogging challenge!

Hi Angie, it's nice to hear from you!

sandrac:

Maria, I was just adding your suggestions to my Ziplist (Zip is a Canadian company similar to Netflix) and I see another film called Don't Tell (La Bestia nel cuore)starring both Luigi Lo Cascio and Alessio Boni. Needless to say, I have added them all to my Ziplist. Now, if I can just find the Aldo Moro film....

sandrac:

Maria (can you tell I'm obsessive?) was the Aldo Moro film called Good Morning, Night (Buongiorno, Notte) by writer/director Marco Bellocchio?

Anne:

I saw part of this movie and loved it. I must look for the dvd as well. I'm with Annie, those guys are tres handsome! Oh and I can testify that Maria's Italian IS very good - do NOT believe her if she tries to tell you otherwise! I marvelled at her fluency the entire time we spent together in Venice.

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