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Paolo Sorrentino • Director

"Youth dispels the fear of time"


- CANNES 2015: Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino talks about his film Youth, in competition at the Cannes Film Festival

Paolo Sorrentino  • Director

"For me, time is the only possible subject: how time passes, how much we have left, how much has already passed. Everything revolves around time.” This is how Paolo Sorrentino sums up Youth [+see also:
film review
interview: Paolo Sorrentino
film profile
(read the review), his seventh movie, in competition at the Cannes Film Festival and already sold to 75 countries.

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The title, explains the Neapolitan director, who will turn 45 on 31 May, summarises the story that the film tells: "Our relationship with the future and with being young, even when one is no longer young." Sorrentino thinks of Youth as an upbeat film: "Perhaps it was made to dispel a certain fear that I believe we all have. The passing of time excites me because the future is a great opportunity for freedom, and freedom is a feeling that belongs to young people."

Cineuropa: What is there of yourself in the film?
Paolo Sorrentino: It’s a very personal film, and it’s a film about love: I have reached my limit in terms of expressing it because I’m so shy. And I gain love from friendship, memory, and the relationship between parents and children.

Why did you choose to shoot the film in English?
Only the English can be made baronets, I think, and then I wanted there to be a relationship with the Queen. In reality, it was Michael Caine who came up with the idea for the film: I wouldn’t have made it if it hadn’t been for him; he has charisma, class and an elegance that are rarely found in actors of a certain age. There’s nothing wrong with non-British directors shooting in English. The new generations have a cultural benchmark that does not stem exclusively from their own country. Conversely, I think it’s passé to make comparisons between the Italian directors of yesterday and today.

How did you choose the lead actors?
I think of the actor before I start writing. For years, Harvey Keitel was always in the most fantastic films to watch, and the mythology surrounding him was growing. The same goes for Caine – he has such a stature that he has no need for a CV; his personality lends him the requisite authority.

They are two great friends who see life differently.
Caine’s character keeps his distance from things, which is touching but of course doesn’t guarantee happiness, but rather a certain calmness. On the other hand, Keitel’s character is dominated by passion par excellence: he’s a director who makes a movie a matter of life or death, which is quite a common phenomenon in cinema: a film can become a real obsession. I would tend to be like Keitel, but I’m working on becoming more like Caine.

Did your Oscar have an influence on your work in this movie?
No, I wrote the film in August 2013, before I won the Oscar. Then I didn’t have time to think about what winning it meant to me.

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(Translated from Italian)

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