Francis Ford Coppola said Youth Without Youth finally offered him the freedom to make a personal picture without studio interference – a “young man’s” movie, in his words. That it is, in all the worst ways. Both naive and pretentious, Youth Without Youth is a circling and self-involved metaphysical drama in the tradition of the silliest European art films of the 1960s. If Coppola had started his career with this sort of mush, we might never have gotten Apocalypse Now or The Godfather. Tim Roth stars as an aging linguistics professor in Nazi-occupied Romania who is struck by lightning. Rather than being killed, though, he begins to grow younger – enabling him to continue his life’s work, a book that uses language to explain nothing less than the meaning of the universe. Coppola goes on to ruminate on the birth of language, reincarnation and the Gestapo, all while sprinkling his film with florid symbolism and upside-down images. He conjures up the pretension of youth, yet he fails to temper it with the wisdom of his actual age.