The Best of Youth

The Best of Youth (Italian: La meglio gioventù), is a 2003 Italian film directed by Marco Tullio Giordana. Originally planned as a four-part mini-series, it was presented at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Un Certain Regard award.[2] It was then given a theatrical release in Italy in two three-hour parts in which 40 minutes were edited out. The complete version was aired in Italy from December 7 to 15, 2003 on Rai Uno in four parts.

The Best of Youth
(La meglio gioventù)
Original Italian film poster
Directed byMarco Tullio Giordana
Produced byAngelo Barbagallo
Written bySandro Petraglia
Stefano Rulli
StarringAlessio Boni
Luigi Lo Cascio
Jasmine Trinca
Adriana Asti
Sonia Bergamasco
Fabrizio Gifuni
Maya Sansa
Lidia Vitale
CinematographyRoberto Forza
Distributed byMiramax
Release date
June 22, 2003
United States:
Running time
366 minutes (theatrical version, two parts) / 400 (TV version, four episodes)
Box office$2,693,053[1]

In the U.S., the film was screened in several cities in two three-hour parts. The two-disc DVD of the film is similarly divided.

Giordana, who directed a film about the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of poet and director Pier Paolo Pasolini, again paid tribute to the director in this film, as its title comes from a Pasolini poem.[3] The film falls within the tradition of several Italian films that cover expansive times of Italian history through the story of one family, such as Rocco and His Brothers and The Leopard.[4]

Giordana, the screenwriters, and the primary actors were featured in a detailed pressbook interview that sheds light on some of the motivations of the characters and the inspiration behind the story.[5]


The Best of Youth is a family saga set in Italy from 1966 through 2003. It chronicles the life of an Italian family, the Caratis, but focuses primarily on two brothers, Matteo (Alessio Boni) and Nicola (Luigi Lo Cascio), documenting their journey from the prime of their wild youth in the mid-1960s counterculture, to parenthood and retirement in the early 2000s. The film aims to show the interaction of the personal and the political, the ways in which small events may become turning points in the important choices made by individuals.

Summer 1966

Two brothers go their separate ways after attempting to rescue a young girl, Giorgia (Jasmine Trinca), from an abusive sanitarium. The brothers are Matteo and Nicola Carati (Alessio Boni and Luigi Lo Cascio). Their parents are Angelo (Andrea Tidona) and Adriana (Adriana Asti), their older sister is Giovanna (Lidia Vitale), and their younger sister is Francesca (Valentina Carnelutti). Their friends, their lovers and others drift through, including Giorgia who struggles with mental issues, but whose life seems to follow in parallel.

Matteo walks out of his first exam, while Nicola qualifies as a doctor (and will pursue a career in psychiatry). Matteo takes mental patients for walks to help them begin to feel normal and takes a particular interest in his patient Giorgia. Noticing that Giorgia has been wounded by electroshock therapy, he decides to remove her from the institution and take her along with him and Nicolawho are about to go on a trip to Norway.

Eventually, Giorgia is captured by the police and taken back to the asylum. Matteo, filled with sadness and depression, returns to Rome and joins the army. Nicola continues to Norway and gets a job as a lumberjack. The brothers meet again in Florence just after the 1966 Arno River flood. Here, Nicola meets a university student, Giulia (Sonia Bergamasco).

February 1968

Nicola and Giulia are living together in Turin, but the two do not marry.


Matteo leaves the army and joins the police force. During this time, Matteo shows signs of continuing depression and anger. He accepts an assignment in Sicily, a place corrupted by the Mafia. Meanwhile, Nicola and Giulia conceive and care for Sara, their daughter.


In Sicily, Matteo meets a photographer in a caffè named Mirella (Maya Sansa). She wants to be a librarian, and he advises her to work at a beautiful library in Rome.

Because of his temper, Matteo is forced to leave Sicily. He decides to reside in Rome but refuses to visit his mother.

Meanwhile, Nicola becomes a psychiatrist, and works to eliminate the abuse and maltreatment of patients in mental hospitals. He finds Giorgia in one of these hospitals. She is tied to a bed in inhumane conditions, does not talk, and shows fear of being touched by others. After some time, Giulia gets drawn into a secret Red Brigades cell. One night, she leaves Nicola and Sara and disappears into the terrorist underground.


Years later Matteo walks into that same library and sees Mirella for the second time. They fall in love, and one evening, make love in a car. Eventually he pushes her away.

December 1983

Mirella meets with Matteo with news for him, but he behaves harshly and forces her to leave. On New Year's Eve, Matteo decides to finally visit his mother. Everyone is there to celebrate. Instead of waiting for the traditional toasts, however, Matteo decides to leave early and, at midnight, jumps off the balcony of his apartment and kills himself.

The family is devastated by the tragedy. No longer motivated, Nicola's mother quits her teaching job and lives a life in solitude in Rome. Nicola, feeling that he could have saved Matteo and not wanting to make the same mistake again, arranges for the capture of Giulia to prevent her from killing someone else or from getting killed. She is sentenced to 17 years in jail. During her jail term, Nicola visits Giulia and proposes to her but is rejected.

Spring 1992

Nicola finds a photograph of Matteo taken by Mirella. He is encouraged by Giorgia to meet with Mirella which, after some hesitation, he agrees to do. When he meets Mirella, Nicola learns about her son (Andrea) and that Matteo was the father. Nicola breaks this exciting news to his mother and they visit Mirella and the boy on the small island of Stromboli. Inspired by new meaning in her life, Nicola's mother decides to stay with Mirella and her grandson.

Meanwhile, Sara, now in her early twenties, is still struggling with the poor choices her mother has made. She decides to move to Rome to study art conservation and becomes engaged to Mimmo. During this time, Nicola finds out his mother has died and, as a result, travels to Stromboli to visit Mirella and pay his respects.

Spring 2000

Having finally moved past the death of Matteo, Nicola and Mirella fall in love. Sara, now happy and strong, is encouraged by Nicola to confront her mother and try to patch things up. Giulia, now out of jail and in desperate need of love, embraces Sara, but is not ready to open up completely.


The film ends with Matteo's son, Andrea, visiting Norway, specifically North Cape, which is where his father and Nicola ventured to go at the beginning of the movie, but never completed their journey.


  • Alessio Boni: Matteo Carati
  • Luigi Lo Cascio: Nicola Carati
  • Jasmine Trinca: Giorgia Esposti
  • Adriana Asti: Adriana Carati
  • Sonia Bergamasco: Giulia Monfalco
  • Fabrizio Gifuni: Carlo Tommasi
  • Maya Sansa: Mirella Utano
  • Valentina Carnelutti: Francesca Carati
  • Nila Carnelutti: Francesca Carati a 8 anni
  • Camilla Filippi: Sara Carati
  • Greta Cavuoti: Sara Carati a 8 anni
  • Sara Pavoncello: Sara Carati a 5 anni
  • Andrea Tidona: Angelo Carati
  • Lidia Vitale: Giovanna Carati
  • Claudio Gioè: Vitale Micavi
  • Giovanni Scifoni: Berto
  • Paolo Bonanni: Luigino
  • Riccardo Scamarcio: Andrea Utano
  • Francesco La Macchia: Andrea Utano a 6 anni
  • Paolo De Vita: Don Vito
  • Mario Schiano: Professore di medicina
  • Michele Melega: Professore di lettere
  • Pippo Montalbano: Commissario di Palermo
  • Antonello Puglisi: Sacerdote di Palermo
  • Roberto Accornero: Presidente del tribunale di Torino
  • Stefano Abbati: Spacciatore
  • Giovanni Martorana: Maghrebino
  • Patrizia Punzo: Gallerista
  • Fabio Camilli: Detenuto Tangentopoli
  • Domenico Centamore: Enzo
  • Mimmo Mignemi: Saro
  • Kristine M. Opheim: Ermione
  • Therese Vadem: Therese
  • Maurizio Di Carmine: Terrorista
  • Krum De Nicola: Brigo
  • Walter Da Pozzo: Mario
  • Sergio Risso: Maggiordomo
  • Emilia Marra: Dottoressa
  • Nicola Vigilante: Infermiere
  • Joana Jiménez: Lolita
  • Maria Grazia Bon: Portinaia


List of Accolades
Award / Film Festival Category Recipient(s) Result
3rd Bastia Italian Film Festival Audience Award Marco Tullio Giordana Won
2004 Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics[6] Grand Prix Marco Tullio Giordana Won
56th Cannes Film Festival Un Certain Regard Marco Tullio Giordana Won
29th César Awards Best Film from the European Union Marco Tullio Giordana Nominated
16th European Film Awards Best Actor Luigi Lo Cascio Nominated
Best Director Marco Tullio Giordana Nominated
Best Screenwriter Sandro Petraglia, Stefano Rulli Nominated
45th Globo d'oro Best Director Marco Tullio Giordana Won
Best Screenwriter Sandro Petraglia, Stefano Rulli Won
Special Jury Award Adriana Asti Won
Best Actor Luigi Lo Cascio Nominated
Best Actress Sonia Bergamasco Nominated
Best Film Marco Tullio Giordana Nominated
15th Palm Springs International Film Festival Audience Award – Best Narrative Feature Marco Tullio Giordana Won
33rd Rotterdam International Film Festival Audience Award Marco Tullio Giordana Won
30th Seattle International Film Festival Best Director Marco Tullio Giordana Won

See also

  • List of longest films by running time


  1. "The Best of Youth (2005) - Box Office Mojo".
  2. "Festival de Cannes: The Best of Youth". Retrieved 2009-11-08.
  3. Mark Kermode (4 July 2004). "The Best of Youth". The Observer. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  4. Peter Bradshaw (2 July 2004). "The Best of Youth". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  5. "Best of Youth Pressbook" (PDF). External link in |website= (help)
  6. Pluijgers, Jean-François (January 12, 2004). "L'UCC s'offre une cure de "Gioventu"". La Libre Belgique (in French). Retrieved October 26, 2012.


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