The Best of Youth
Italian theatrical release poster
ItalianLa meglio gioventù
Directed byMarco Tullio Giordana
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Sandro Petraglia
  • Stefano Rulli
Produced byAngelo Barbagallo
CinematographyRoberto Forza
Edited byRoberto Missiroli
Distributed by01 Distribution
Release dates
  • 20 May 2003 (2003-05-20) (Cannes)
  • 20 June 2003 (2003-06-20) (Italy; Act I)
  • 27 June 2003 (2003-06-27) (Italy; Act II)
Running time
366 minutes (theatrical version)
382 minutes (TV version)
BudgetL.12 billion[1]
Box office$2.7 million[2]

The Best of Youth (Italian: La meglio gioventù) is a 2003 Italian historical drama film directed by Marco Tullio Giordana and written by Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli. A family saga set in Italy from 1966 through 2003, it chronicles the life of the middle-class Carati family, focusing primarily on brothers Nicola (Luigi Lo Cascio) and Matteo (Alessio Boni) as their life paths separate during youth, encompassing major political and social events in post–World War II Italian history.

Originally conceived as a Rai television miniseries, it premiered at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Prize Un Certain Regard. It was then given a theatrical release in Italy as two 3-hour films (titled Act I and Act II), before being aired with broader success on Rai 1 in a slightly longer four-episode television version later that year. In the U.S., the film was released by Miramax in its theatrical version.

The title of the film, an ungrammatical rendition of La miglior gioventù ("the best youth/young people"), comes from the title of a 1954 Friulian language poetry collection by Pier Paolo Pasolini, who in turn borrowed it from a line of Alpini World War II song Sul ponte di Perati;[3] here, Giordana uses it to refer to his generation, which is also the main characters' one, made up of those young people who participated in the Sessantotto.[3]


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 Nicola—who 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.

Spring 1995

Nicola and his friends acquire and plan the reconstruction of an old villa house in Tuscany. Giulia (out of jail) meets Francesca but chooses not to talk to Sara, watching her from afar. 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, 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.


  • Michele Melega as literature professor
  • Thérèse Vadem as Therese
  • Stefano Abbati as pusher
  • Giovanni Martorana as Maghrebi
  • Paolo De Vita as Don Vito
  • Mimmo Mignemi as Giorgia's father
  • Domenico Centamore as Officer Enzo
  • Pippo Montalbano as Police Chief in Palermo
  • Gaspare Cucinella as 'Viddanu
  • Dario Veca as butcher
  • Nicola Vigilante as nurse
  • Marcello Prayer as Second Lieutenant
  • Walter Da Pozzo as Officer Mario
  • Krum De Nicola as Brigo
  • Maurizio Di Carmine as terrorist
  • Roberto Accornero as President of the Court in Turin
  • Fabio Camilli as Tangentopoli inmate
  • Antonello Puglisi as priest in Palermo
  • Patrizia Punzo as gallery manager
  • Emilia Marra as doctor


Principal photography began in March 2002,[4][5] taking place mainly in Florence, Turin and Collegno in the following months.[6][7][8] On 26 June 2002, filming moved to Stromboli, lasting three days.[9] Filming also took place in Rome and North Cape, Norway.[8][9]


Originally set for a television broadcast on Rai 2, The Best of Youth was bought by Rai 1 and then indefinitely shelved from its scheduled air date of fall 2002.[1][10] Set for February 2003, it was delayed again after TV spots had already aired.[10] Freedom of expression association Articolo 21, liberi di... accused Rai 1 director Agostino Saccà and his successor Fabrizio Del Noce of making a politically charged use of public television in favor of the Berlusconi government (see Editto Bulgaro).[10] In April, the film was selected for the Cannes Film Festival,[10] where it had its world premiere on 20 May 2003, competing in the Un Certain Regard sidebar.[11] Here, it received the Prize Un Certain Regard along with widespread critical acclaim, credited as having rekindled Rai's interest, who decided to give the film a theatrical release before airing it.[1]

Due to its extensive runtime, The Best of Youth was divided in two parts for its theatrical release in Italy, premiering on 7 and 8 June 2003 at the Taormina Film Festival:[12] the first part (Italian: Atto primo, lit.'Act I') was released by 01 Distribution on 20 June, followed by the second one (Italian: Atto secondo, lit.'Act II') on 27 June.[12] A four-part version, with an additional 20 minutes of running time, was finally broadcast from 7 to 15 December 2003 on Rai 1 at 8:45 pm:[3][7][13]

No.TitleLengthOpening credits songOriginal air dateItaly viewers
Ratings share
1"La meglio gioventù - Prima parte"98 minutes"The House of the Rising Sun" by the AnimalsDecember 7, 2003 (2003-12-07)7.3[13]28.77%[14]
2"La meglio gioventù - Seconda parte"94 minutes"Suzanne" by Leonard CohenDecember 8, 2003 (2003-12-08)6.5[15]23.86%[15]
3"La meglio gioventù - Terza parte"94 minutes"Who Wants to Live Forever" by QueenDecember 14, 2003 (2003-12-14)N/ATBA
4"La meglio gioventù - Quarta parte"96 minutesDecember 15, 2003 (2003-12-15)6.7[16]TBA


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (March 2021)

According to film critic Peter Bradshaw, the film falls within the tradition of several films that cover expansive times of Italian history through the story of one family, such as Rocco and His Brothers and The Leopard.[17]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics 12 January 2004 Grand Prix The Best of Youth Won [18]
Cannes Film Festival 25 May 2003 Un Certain Regard Award Won [19]
César Awards 21 February 2004 Best Film from the EU Nominated
David di Donatello Awards 14 April 2004 Best Film Won
Best Director Marco Tullio Giordana Won
Best Actor Luigi Lo Cascio Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Fabrizio Gifuni Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Jasmine Trinca Nominated
Best Producer Angelo Barbagallo Won
Best Screenplay Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli Won
Best Editing Roberto Missiroli Won
Best Sets and Decorations Franco Ceraolo Nominated
Best Costumes Elisabetta Montaldo Nominated
Best Sound Fulgenzio Ceccon Won
European Film Awards 6 December 2003 Best Director Marco Tullio Giordana Nominated
Best Actor Luigi Lo Cascio Nominated
Best Screenwriter Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli Nominated
Film Fest Gent 18 October 2003 Grand Prix The Best of Youth Nominated
Globo d'Oro Awards 3 July 2004 Best Film Nominated
Best Director Marco Tullio Giordana Won
Best Actor Luigi Lo Cascio Nominated
Best Actress Sonia Bergamasco Nominated
Best Screenplay Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli Won
Special Jury Award Adriana Asti Won
Nastro d'Argento Awards 19 June 2004 Best Director Marco Tullio Giordana Won
Best Producer Angelo Barbagallo Won
Best Actor Alessio Boni
Fabrizio Gifuni
Luigi Lo Cascio
Andrea Tidona
Best Actress Adriana Asti
Sonia Bergamasco
Maya Sansa
Jasmine Trinca
Best Screenplay Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli Won
Best Editing Roberto Missiroli Won
Best Costume Design Elisabetta Montaldo Nominated
Best Sound Fulgenzio Ceccon Won
National Board of Review Awards 3 December 2003 Top Ten Foreign Films The Best of Youth Won [20]
Palm Springs International Film Festival 19 January 2004 Audience Award
(Best Narrative Feature)
Rotterdam International Film Festival 1 February 2004 KPN Audience Award Won [21]
Seattle International Film Festival 30 June 2004 Best Director Marco Tullio Giordana Won

See also


  1. ^ a b c Fusco, Maria Pia (25 May 2003). "La meglio gioventù d' Italia" [The Best of Youth of Italy]. La Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  2. ^ The Best of Youth at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ a b c Silipo, Raffaella (7 December 2003). "«La meglio gioventù» alla prova televisiva" [«The best youth» to the TV test]. La Stampa (in Italian). p. 32. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  4. ^ Iaccarino, Luca (5 March 2002). "Torino, Hollywood" [Turin, Hollywood]. La Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  5. ^ "La candidatura come protagonista di 'Luce dei miei occhi'" [The Best Lead Actor nomination for 'Luce dei miei occhi']. La Repubblica (in Italian). 20 March 2002. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  6. ^ Fumarola, Silvia (14 April 2002). "Giordana: sogni e sconfitte di una bella generazione" [Giordana: dreams e defeats of a beautiful generation]. La Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  7. ^ a b Cavalla, Daniele (5 December 2003). "Una famiglia torinese" [A family from Turin]. La Stampa (in Italian). p. 126. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  8. ^ a b Iaccarino, Luca (10 May 2002). "Ciak, Giordana gira 'La meglio gioventù'" [Action! Giordana shoots 'The Best of Youth']. La Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  9. ^ a b Nobile, Laura (27 June 2002). "Stromboli, primo ciak per Giordana e Lo Cascio" [Stromboli, first ciak for Giordana and Lo Cascio]. La Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  10. ^ a b c d "Rai, perché esulta per Giordana?" [Why does Rai rejoice for Giordana?]. La Repubblica (in Italian). 24 April 2003. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  11. ^ "Oggi il film di Giordana che la Rai non ha trasmesso" [Today in competition: Giordana's film that RAI didn't air]. La Repubblica (in Italian). 20 May 2003. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  12. ^ a b "La kermesse di Giordana" [Giordana's festival]. La Repubblica (in Italian). 8 June 2003. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  13. ^ a b "Tv, oltre 7 milioni di spettatori davanti a "La meglio gioventù"" [TV, over 7 million spectators in front of "The Best of Youth"]. La Repubblica (in Italian). 8 December 2003. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  14. ^ "La meglio gioventù fa 7 milioni" [The Best of Youth makes 7 million]. La Repubblica (in Italian). 9 December 2003. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  15. ^ a b "Brevi" [Shorts]. La Repubblica (in Italian). 10 December 2003. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  16. ^ Comazzi, Alessandra (17 December 2003). "La meglio, eterna, gioventù" [The Best, Eternal Youth]. La Stampa (in Italian). p. 34. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  17. ^ Peter Bradshaw (2 July 2004). "The Best of Youth". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  18. ^ Pluijgers, Jean-François (January 12, 2004). "L'UCC s'offre une cure de "Gioventu"". La Libre Belgique (in French). Retrieved October 26, 2012.
  19. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Best of Youth". Retrieved 2009-11-08.
  20. ^ "National Board of Review of Motion Pictures :: Awards for 2003". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27.
  21. ^ "Awards 2004".

Further reading