Youth Without Youth
In Romania, circa 1938, Professor Dominic Matei (Tim Roth) has become disillusioned with two certain things: that he still has not completed his life’s work of a linguistic nature and that he lost his true love (Alexandra Maria Lara) many years before due to his workaholic nature.
After a bolt of lightning strikes him, miraculously not only does he survive, but he regresses in age. While his chronological age is that of an elderly man, his body is that of a 40 year old. Everyone in the medical world is trying to get their hands on him to study and conduct experiments. In the meantime, with the assistance of a physician, Dominic gets the chance to further his career aspirations and continue his work. As one would expect, in the era that this is set in, the world’s had some bigger problems to deal with, which provides an ample backdrop to this tale.
The film’s message to me was mainly one of personal fulfillment by someone who has the chance to do something many of us have wished to, at one time or another: to start life all over again. To right the wrongs, and have things fall into place the way that they should have been. While other characters in other literary and film works are forced into this position and despise it, Dominic relishes it. He doesn?t seem to be rejecting the course of action he must take. He embraces it.
After many years of being on the run, he encounters a woman who could be the twin of his beloved Laura. Veronica (also Ms. Lara) exhibits some interesting traits of her own as we get to know her: reincarnation and the ability to channel spirits. In my eyes, Dominic behaves a bit like Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo from this point on. Does he really love Veronica because she is Veronica? Or is it because of who she resembles and what that represents?
It took me a while to figure out my personal significance of the title. The ambiguousness of whether he really did go through everything he experienced or if it was just the wishful thinking of a lonely old man of how his life could have been made it both exasperating and hopeful. The film was rather long, but in Coppola fashion, he turns over the stones as he sees fit. I did enjoy the film as a whole, but some parts did lag a bit. In essence, it is imaginative and will give everyone something to ponder when life isn?t quite going the way one would like it to.