By Timothy Gunatilaka
Updated February 07, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

The Best of Youth, a made-for-Italian-TV epic passes the six-hour mark without evoking one peek at the watch from the most antsy viewer. Youth ambitiously traces the lives of two brothers — one a generous-to-a-fault physician (Luigi Lo Cascio), the other a tortured romantic-turned-tetchy soldier (Alessio Boni) — over four decades of broken love affairs, political strife, World Cup wins, and natural and domestic disasters. And all along, Italy itself (”A beautiful but useless place, destined to die”) beats with as much vitality as any character. Brothers playfully rekindle sibling rivalries amid Marxism’s militant rise; future paramours flirt about photography while Mob violence pervades the nation; and the trivial delights of family melodrama converge with the grand sweep of some historical novel, leading to the ecstatic fairy-tale finale. There simply aren’t enough films today exuding such irresistible passion. EXTRAS None. (But who cares!)

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