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The Best of Youth

Old School Storytelling On A Grand Human Scale

I'll make this short: If you appreciate the joys, sorrows, and challenges life throws your way, and if you feel there is a dearth of good contemporary movies that deal with the more important things in life then do not miss The Best of Youth! Yes, you will have to make time in your busy schedule to watch this engrossing six-hour Italian epic masterpiece -- shown in two three-hour installments -- but it is worth every minute.

The Best of Youth is a powerful coming-of-age story that follows the lives of two distinctly different brothers, the gentle and compassionate Nicola (Luigi Lo Cascio) and the tempestuous and unhappy Matteo (Alessio Boni), and their extended family. The film intertwines their personal narratives with nearly four decades of post-World War II Italian history, from the tumultuous 1960s through the political scandals and Red Brigade terrorism of the 1970s and 80s to the anti-Mafia campaigns in more recent years.

Despite its focus on scandals, disasters, and other life-changing events in Italian history, including the 1966 winter floods in Florence, when young people from all over Italy converged on the city to help save its artistic treasures, The Best of Youth is refreshingly hopeful and optimistic in its melodramatic epic sweep. Don't think for a moment, however, that the film's events can't possibly touch you because they are so specifically Italian. The sense of living in tumultuous times rife with political crisis and social changes has parallels everywhere.

Thanks to the generosity and craftsmanship of director Marco Tullio Giordana and his team and the dramatic talents of a compelling cast, there's not one dull moment in this originally made-for-Italian-TV saga, and taking the time to see The Best of Youth is an experience that will stay with you for a long time. It might even qualify as the best time you've ever had at the movies -- it really is that good.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars