Louis Malle’s daughter Justine fictionalizes (barely) her life when she was 20 and coping with love and her father’s approaching death, in “Youth.” Understated and obviously very close to home, the pic works as a small-scale study of a woman less mature than her years would suggest (so much for French sophistication) who’s having difficulty balancing life’s upheavals. Esther Garrel (Philippe’s daughter) lacks screen wattage, though her projection of artlessness makes sense, given her character. A small run at home and fest sidebars are probable venues for this super-indie production.Juliette (Garrel) is at college hoping to learn, she admits, how to form an opinion. Her father (Didier Bezace) is a well-known filmmaker with three kids from three different women, and while Juliette doesn’t live with him, the two are relatively close. Still a virgin, she’s eager to lose that status to noncommittal Benjamin (Emile Bertherat), using Bob Dylan’s “I Want You” to set the mood. Meanwhile, Juliette’s unwillingness to admit her father’s mortality, plus her confusion in matters of the heart, prevent her from fully engaging during Dad’s final days. Digital lensing looks harsh in bright light.
A Tupelo Films production, in association with Stromboli Films. Produced by Remi Pradinas. Directed by Justine Malle. Screenplay, Malle, Cecile Vargaftig.
Camera (color, HD), Nicolas Pernot; editor, Olivier Ferrari; production designer, Aurore Casalis; sound, Christophe Penchenat, Alexandre Lesbats; assistant director, Marianne Neplaz. Reviewed at Rome Film Festival (Alice in the City), Nov. 11, 2012. Running time: 75 MIN.
Esther Garrel, Didier Bezace, Emile Bertherat, Lucia Sanchez, Christele Tual, Augustin Bonhomme, Elisabeth Baranes.