Francis Ford Coppola convinces you that lightning can strike twice, and in more ways than one, in his first film in a decade, Youth Without Youth. His renewed passion for moviemaking makes a zigzag narrative easy and rewarding to follow. But not too easy - where would be the fun in that? Yet for a film whose ingredients include the transmigration of souls, the synchronicity of past, present and future, and the merger of dreams and reality - as well as the peculiar interests of Nazis and Orientalists - Youth Without Youth is surprisingly absorbing and romantic. Coppola's fidelity to the novella by Mircea Eliade can make sections of the film appear rushed or clotted, but by the end you feel immersed in a rejuvenating spring.
Set from 1938 to 1969, mostly in Romania and Switzerland, Youth Without Youth tells the story of a 70-year-old professor of linguistics and religion, Dominic Matei (Tim Roth), who totters to the brink of suicide before he wins a second chance at life. He's bereft over his inability to complete his lifelong study of the origin of language; he laments losing the love of his life, the charming and empathic Laura, to his obsession with his work.
Youth Without Youth (Sony Pictures Classics) Starring Tim Roth, Alexandra Maria Lara. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Rated R. Time 124 minutes.
See more photos from Youth Without Youth at baltimoresun.com/youth