The Best of Youth

Please don't bitch about not having six hours to watch this humane and heartbreaking Italian film that requires you to read English subtitles. If you saw Boogeyman, Hitch and Hide and Seek -- and the box-office figures say you did -- that would qualify as six hours wasted. The Best of Youth, directed by Marco Tullio Giordana from a warmly expansive script by Sandro Pertraglia and Stefano Rulli, is a gift -- an intimate epic to get lost in. It tells the story of modern Italy, from 1966 to the near present, through the lives of the Carati brothers, Nicola (Luigi Lo Cascio) and Matteo (Alessio Boni). As history passes -- the floods in Florence, the Red Brigades, Mafia scandals, political assassinations -- it passes through them. Nicola is the Romeo who becomes a selfless psychiatrist. He loves Giulia (Sonia Bergamasco), a radical who locks horns with Matteo, the idealist soldier turned angry cop. The acting is electric. By the end of this haunting, hypnotic film, you feel you have watched lives being lived, not just imagined.

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