A Pathe Pictures sales rep for Francis Coppola‘s Youth Without Youth asked me this morning to take down that negative assessment of the film that was received from a trusted buyer yesterday and posted soon after. The Pathe guy said he was horrified and that airing this view would be damaging, etc. I told him I was torn between feeling that it was fair to post the comment and at the same time feeling a little bit badly about it. But I finally decided to pull it and wait for reactions from some fair-game screening down the road.
I told the rep that I thought the posted comments sounded too rough, as I said in the item, but also that Youth Without Youth is going to have to face the music sooner or later. Coppola has been keeping it under wraps for months and months, and saying all along that it’s a student film, an experimental film, a personal artsy film, etc. Everyone knows that these are code phrases that mean “not that commercial.” I also said I’m in business with distributors all over (I depend on advertising support) and that I don’t want to be an asshole about this. But given my knowing and trusting the source, I explained again that it seemed fair to air the opinion, especially for a film that was shot in Romania and Bulgaria in late ’05 and early ’06, and has been shuffling and re-shuffling the deck ever since.
I said I suspected that Youth Without Youth might be in trouble when it was announced last May that it would have its world premiere at the RomeFilmFest, which is not a serious film festival, is renowned for being a softball venue, and so far has not been frequented by top-level critics (trade and otherwise) or buyers. I expected way back that it would go to Venice or Toronto first. It may go to Telluride (a prestigious but unofficial venue) but I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
In the end I decided I don’t want to cause pain just for the sake of causing pain or asserting stubbornness. I’d like to see Francis Coppola back in the game and plugging away for the next two or three decades, and I don’t want to preemptively interfere with that scenario. And yet I’ve been asking myself if I’m being a pushover. Is anything on HE ripe for removal providing the person requesting such is sufficiently horrified and believes that the item/story will be damaging enough?