Youth Without Youth

(2007) ** 1/2 R
124 min. Sony Pictures Classics. Director: Francis Ford Coppola. Cast: Tim Roth, Alexandra Maria Lara, Bruno Ganz, Marcel Iures, Zoltan Butuc.

After a decade-long absence, Francis Ford Coppola returns to his roots with the indie Youth Without Youth. It's an ambitious adaptation of the novella by Mircea Eliade, full of magic realism and philosophy. Unfortunately, it's also a dud. Coppola still knows what to do with a camera, but the disjointed story doesn't cohere into an emotional experience, and the intellectual threads come apart in a mess of visual distractions, laughable dialogue, and sidetracks such as an espionage conspiracy. Coppola loyalists have some compensation: droll humor, fancy visuals, serious-minded philosophizing, and Tim Roth doing his customary good work as an elderly professor who, when hit by a bolt of lightning, turns young and becomes a target as the scientific inroad to a fountain of youth.

[For Groucho's interview with Tim Roth, click here.]

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