***½/**** Image A+ Sound A+ Extras A
starring Tim Roth, Alexandra Maria Lara, Bruno Ganz, André M. Hennicke
screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novella by Mircea Eliade
directed by Francis Ford Coppola
by Walter Chaw Set in just-antebellum Europe, Francis Ford Coppola's Golden Age superhero fantasy Youth Without Youth finds mild-mannered ancients professor Dominic (Tim Roth) transmogrified by a bolt of lightning into a being who appears to not only have regained his youthful appearance, but also developed the ability to alter physical objects with his mind. Dominic is in 1938 Romania when 1.21 jigawatts of electricity send him back to the future, able to absorb entire volumes with a single touch, learn dead languages in his sleep, and have contentious conversations with himself reflected in mirrors literal and figurative. It's a superhero movie in the same sense as Kasi Lemmons's sorely underestimated The Caveman's Valentine: based on a literary source, it's itself intensely literate, sprinkling Mandarin and Sanskrit in with, late in the game, a language of our hero's own devising to which he devotes reels of obsessive notes. All that's missing is a purpose for our hero--something remedied as the picture moves forward past WWII and Dominic encounters Veronica (Alexandra Maria Lara) en route to her own collision with cosmic destiny.