Performing art troupe members each face their own trials and tribulations in Chengdu; from escaping a family scandal to dealing with unrequited love, each experiences rejection that shapes their lives in this coming-of-age tale selected to play at the Toronto International Film Festival. Directed by Chinese helming legend Feng Xiaogang.
Seth Shively : I didn’t want to part with this film. There was a lingering somber feeling that accompanied me as I left the theatre. I doubt I can place a finger on what exactly moved me so much. Perhaps the final letter from He Xiaoping’s father. Perhaps the wonderful opening dancing number. Perhaps the closing recounting of this motley assortment of people reuniting in a foreign future time. Perhaps the visually assaulting war scene with some astounding cinematography and blocking.
elías : It’s always fascinating seeing a particular culture transforming itself, and how it impacts the lives of individuals experiencing these changes first hand. Though Youth isn’t perfect, I think it capitalizes on this aspect of storytelling in a wonderfully robust manner, as to manifest itself into a worthwhile journey through the eyes of these characters. I may not know much about China’s history during this period, and I certainly didn’t need to. The film doesn’t fully rely on you to understand… more
Filipe Furtado : Feng Xiaogang transformation into Chinese George Stevens is complete. If it was American, Youth would get a dozen oscar nominations. I say both of those things with no value judgement.
Brian Formo : My first Feng Xiaogang film and I felt a little mixed overall. I think it strives for immense heartache and intensely felt melodrama but for me Youth works best as an examination of bodies. The first arts troupe practice was divine, arching back to remind me of Claire Denis’ examination of the military body sans weapons in Beau Travail. The immense control of movement and muscle in the troupe’s dance performance is revelatory and the attention to body awareness appears… more
Forrest Cardamenis : Like Jia’s Platform by way of Steven Spielberg, and one of only a few 2017 films I might call “great.” Here’s a few things I liked about it: 1. The dazzling tracking shot in the war, that begins noticing a butterfly, is interrupted by gunfire setting off a soldier’s dynamite, and then follows one of the protagonists into and out of the tall grass. 2. The period detail. In any early rehearsal scene, we see portraits on the wall of… more
Tarryn-tino : Youth is so good, so very very good. And I mean everything about it. I’m trying to think if there’s something I can fault and I really can’t. It really is unbelievable what some countries (but particularly, it seems, Asian countries) can achieve on such a small budget. If mine and my bf’s calculations were correct, they made this on less that US$20m. Now I know to some, this might seem like a pretty big amount, but after watching it,… more
Steven Cohen : I was a big fan of Xiaogang Feng’s I Am Not Madame Bovary, a movie about the destructive and frustrating nature of Chinese bureaucracy. So it’s not especially surprising that Feng’s newest movie, Youth, was removed from the release schedule for a time. It has finally been released, though, and is an epic about art, love, and war. The picture pairs well with Bovary, showing how love of country is often not reciprocated. Feng isn’t as experimental here with framing, but he does execute some excellent long takes. I’m in the boat for this guy now.
Invincible Asia : Favourite of the year so far (counting it as a 2018 film, as really, for a Non-Chinese person it’s pretty much impossible to see a film that hits cinemas by the end of December 2017 in that year). A sprawling epic, yet told from a wonderfully personal perspective, as screenwriter (and author of the book the film is adapted from) Yan Geling was once a member of a PLA troupe, just like director Feng Xiaogang. And every breathtakingly beautiful image… more
Jon M. : The anti-Cold War: totally expels the “virtue” of selfish vanity and marks it as the site of social collapse and disorder. It leans conservatively and the filmmaking gets progressively worse across its duration as it gives way to trite aesthetic exercise, but it does add further proof to the argument that the communists are truly top tier songwriters.
Rafael Abreu : They paved Communist China And put up a Coca-Cola sign
Post1000Tension : I was still willing to trust Feng Xiaogang’s evenhandedness when the first hints of false rape accusation came up. His whole film is mediated through multiple levels of distance, which made me think Dingding’s justifiable unease was being distorted through a whisper-down-the-lane effect. But then the war story began. Liu Feng and He Xiaoping migrated toward the center of the film, and YOUTH transformed from an ensemble film into a melodrama. Which was itself a fine decision, and certainly borne… more
Mr. Kindergelt : Elegance and sincerity in the tragic nostalgia of youth.
Theresa Wang : This would be really good as television show
Rob Simpson : FULL REVIEW ON THE GEEK SHOW “No one could doubt the director or Youth’s ability to depict the abject terror and hopelessness of war, if anything, its that very strength that overpowers everything leaving all else in its shadow. Xiaogang is a technically gifted filmmaker in other areas with the scenes of music, dance, and art given a credibility by staging all of it with the do or die seriousness that defines such performance troupes. As well as front-loading authenticity,… more
Harris Dang : The musical score is fantastic, the characters (especially the females) are well-defined and well-acted and Feng’s sneaky humour still hits the mark when it shows. But I could’ve enjoyed the film more if there weren’t three people in the cinema talking throughout the film behind me. A rewatch is needed.
Gabriel Lyons : Weirdly lyrical and poetic. It plays off as an ensemble drama that follows the evolution of members of a military art troupe in the People’s Liberation Army during the Cultural Revolution in China, throwing away every stop to create a narrative grand in stature and epic in scale, much like what Angelina Jolie tried to do with Unbroken. However, the film is an intense, meticulous, and lovingly scatterbrained character study of ordinary people in obtuse situations. Emotionally sentimental and photographically… more
Guilherme Renz : This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco This ain’t no fooling around No time for dancing, or lovey dovey I ain’t got time for that now
Jussi Hulkkonen : Melodrama and sentimentalized propaganda fit side by side in Feng’s elegantly stylized, emphatically and fervently emotional portrait of youth under trial, the loves, friendships, and betrayals of young years abruptly cut short by the fire of war, Feng compares the lasting scars of war to those of youth and the failure of society to prepare the young for the real world, as he paints a portrait of a generation at once broad and intimate. In Feng’s hands, this generational portrait… more
avitaperon : YOUTH is overly ambitious in its scope. I thought the characters were all genuine and well-developed, and I really enjoyed a LOT of sequences throughout the film, but ultimately felt overwhelmed by how much it was trying to accomplish.
Sarah : I had a hard time getting past the misogyny in this movie.
Cameron Wayne Johnso : We Americans are by no means used to young, liberally-minded art students readily going to war with Vietnam, though these kids are doing it in defense of socialism. It’s so socialist in fact that these kids’ artistic aspirations are to serve in an art troupe for the People’s Liberation Army. Yup, it’s really socialism against socialism, Maoism against Stalinism as these kids’ turbulent lives through the Cultural Revolution culminate in the Sino-Vietnamese War. Just when you thought this was more… more
ozora : Lovable period epic that builds a troubled and touching coming of age story using the powerful background of China political transformations during the second half of last century. Visually refined with great taste and care for details, it thrives with a rich cast of believable young characters that grow and meke the audience feel their turmoil along the story. All told trough a sympathetic but disenchanted eye, that does not shy from showing their painful failures and their contradictions.
Ken Martell : A bit too much melodrama for me at times but I enjoyed so much else about the movie that it didn’t really ruin anything for me. The way you see so much going through these characters lives you can’t help but feel for them in some of the more dramatic or intense scenes. The shockingly brutal war sequences have a nice contrast to the earlier art troupe campus scenes where many of the characters are still very young and naive.… more
artemi : this movie brought me so much pain. like it didn’t even give me time to feel depressed before it brought on more depression. Also yes i watched this during christmas with my family bc apparently theres nothing more festive than watching heart-wrenching movies about communism! except its not about communism its so much more and actually after having time to process this movie (AKA 15 min after watching it) i actually love this movie and GOD im depressed.
connie : War is hell
Manuel Uberti : It may be a predictable tearjerker, but it’s a journey through the cracks of history that moved me more than I dare to confess. A coming of age of people victims of changes in the world around them so rapid that they are just locked out of it all. No time to grasp the means to reasonably deal with this world. No time if not the little, precious time you can treasure with the few ones like you.
internisus : A very nice historical war drama with incredible production. The flow of the story is sometimes disjointed, and, while I won’t pretend I was unaffected by its characters, it is often a bit melodramatic for my taste. But overall I quite enjoyed it.
thepigs : can’t remember when i actually watched this but it was with my parents and i cried and i really liked that day
ragna93 : 2017년 중국 산업영화 중에 최고라고 들었지만 나에겐 그저 실망과 실망. 계속되는 중국버전 신파의 연속.
rhomv : It’s difficult to accurately capture Chinese history, it’s length and grandeur enveloping multiple lenses from which it could be viewed. This is particularly true of more modern historical films and novels, with the government overtly censoring films and novels that should be cannon in the modern era, such as Ruined City by Jia Pingwa. What this film does is great not only for forcing the audience to face to ugliness of China’s recent history, but for doing so at a… more