The city. A couple in their late teens living in broken homes and attempting to get by in a Spain that’s choking under the weight of austerity measures. From the very beginning of “Beautiful youth” (“Hermosa Juventud” in the original Spanish title) clues in the way of dialogues and confrontations are provided pointing to the bitterly difficult situation that this young couple, and so many others of their generation, are confronted with. An utter lack of money and a head full of dreams. They’re not twenty one yet and they already seem resigned to some dark fate. Video games and playing music in their smarphone resumes most of their activities. Youth is wasted on the young, as the saying goes.
In one exterior scene the young man and woman are discussing their future, he saying he wants to buy his girlfriend a house by the sea. She laughs sweetly and eggs him on, saying she wants two houses. He piles a Ferrari on top of that dream and she teases him, saying that buying the house has turned out to be a pretext for him to buy the Ferrari. I suppose we should be thankful for a 100% irony-free scene. It’s one of those moments in the film when we can really see the pureness of youth and how being an adult is so different from this. That means realizing that life is filled with disappointment. These two youngsters haven’t reached this awareness yet, but they’re not too far from it.
The film suddenly transitioned to an interview scene in which the two young ones (played by Carlos Rodriguez and Ingrid Garcia Jonsson) are being asked questions about how they met and how often they have sex. They are about to have sex on camera. Afterwards, the greaseball porn producer (terrific casting choice) exclaims, “you got off and you got 600 euros for it, can’t beat that, right?”
And that’s about the only hint of a frisson that we’re treated to in this film. Because from that point on I was waiting, not without a certain amount of anticipation, the moment when they would be found out. I was so sure that we’d get to a scene when the young man’s friends perusing their daily fill of porn would run into his pal’s independent movie. But that did not quite happen. Instead, this was their first and last porn outing, the couple eventually got pregnant and “Beautiful youth” turns
Rosales held the MacGuffin in the palm of his hand–a terrible secret (shooting porn), the search to keep it hidden (from parents, friends, university financial aid officers), and the chaos that would ensue were they to be found out (murder? mayem?)–but instead, Rosales inexplicably took the road less risky and lured us into watching some ethnofiction piece on how pregnancy affects young people’s lives.
“Hermosa Juventud” Jaime Rosales’s fourth outing at Cannes. His previous films most notably included 2007’s “Solitary Fragments.”