Daily | Cannes 2014 | Jaime Rosales’s BEAUTIFUL YOUTH

Beautiful Youth

Ingrid Garcia-Johnsson in ‘Beautiful Youth’

“Jaime Rosales has long been one of Europe’s most serious, valuable and innovative filmmakers,” begins the Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw. “Now he returns to Cannes with another deeply felt and deeply considered drama in a compassionate, realist style. It is a film about the silent anguish of Spain’s young people, a generation junked by the economic slump. Rosales traces the tragedy and the scandal of their energy and idealism going to waste…. Beautiful Youth isn’t perfect, and I’m not sure about its final moments—but Rosales’s sheer intelligence is bracing.”

At, Ben Kenigsberg notes that the film includes “long interludes in which all we see on screen is text messaging, and it is concerned with how relationships are mitigated through Skype and Facebook. The central paradox, hardly new, is that as the world has grown more interconnected, it’s become easier for people to grow apart. The test cases here are a Spanish couple (Ingrid Garcia-Johnsson and Carlos Rodriguez) who find themselves strapped for cash when she becomes pregnant. They contemplate a move to Germany, where there are more jobs, but—given the couples’ lack of understanding of the language—not necessarily better ones. Beautiful Youth potently indicts the current economic disparities in the EU, though the subject cries out for a more nuanced exploration. The film’s punch line feels willfully cynical.”

Jordan Mintzer for the Hollywood Reporter: “Making his fourth appearance in Cannes, and his second in the Un Certain Regard sidebar, Rosales has forged a name for himself on the festival circuit as a sort of Spanish Michael Haneke, with a series of semi-formalist features—beginning with 2003’s The Hours of the Day—filled with a bleak sense of modern-day malaise. (Rosales is currently the subject of a career retrospective at Paris’ Centre Pompidou.) Yet while Beautiful Youth may be a tad more accessible than the director’s previous work, its characters remain for the most part obtuse, while its story seems familiar—even if that’s kind of the point.”

Variety‘s Peter Debruge: “For kicks, Carlos suggests that the couple shoot a porno movie, and though Rosales spares us the act, we should be grateful for the setup: a candid on-camera interview in which the two characters provide details otherwise withheld by a film that rejects traditional exposition. Though presented without judgment, this development seems unusually risque in the context of a fairly routine kitchen-sink drama, which mostly concerns how a lower-middle-class couple that probably wouldn’t have lasted under normal circumstances deals with the arrival of an unplanned baby girl.” The text messages, photos and so on “are the closest insight the film offers into the minds of its characters—and practically the farthest thing from a satisfying storytelling experience one can imagine. Better to spend the majority of the film staring at beautiful young people, however listless, than to be banished to the attention-deficit world of their devices.”

“It probably doesn’t do Beautiful Youth any favors that there’s some full-fat Dardennes at the festival at the same time, tackling similar subject matter, because the rather banal version here certainly pales in comparison,” finds Oliver Lyttelton at the Playlist. For Screen Daily‘s Dan Fainaru, “while it may be accurate in essence, it is also bland, predictable and not particularly engrossing.”

“Garcia-Jonsson is the star of the film,” argues HitFix‘s Drew McWeeney. She “suggests volumes through even small gestures, and watching her slowly realize that no matter how well Carlos means, she’s still got to depend on herself more than anyone else, it’s a real heartbreak.”

Rosales “does not abandon his hallmark or signature style, almost creating a documentary with occasionally unsteady camerawork,” notes Alfonso Rivera at Cineuropa, where he adds that Beautiful Youth “constitutes something of a sell-out for Rosales, who has opted for a more traditional and standard form of narrative this time around.”

For more in Spanish, see Mónica Delgado at desistfilm and Diego Lerer.

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