A pretty disappointing film from Feng, which oddly mimics the kind of cinema he helped China to move away from some 20 years ago. Youth reminded me of a film Yimou Zhang could have made during the 90s, only without the natural grace and visual splendor that made Zhang's films stand out.
Youth follows Xiaoping, a young country bumpkin joining a military dance troupe in the hope of finding some respect and appreciation. It doesn't take long before the bullying starts though and when the war erupts she is sent to a frontline hospital to tend to the wounded soldiers. Unfazed, she accepts her destiny and becomes an overnight hero.
Visually I expected more from Feng. The film doesn't look bad, but there are few memorable moments, even though it's clear the budget wasn't lacking. Actors do a decent job, but there are no stand-out performances. It's the score that is by far the weakest element though. It's loud and saccharine, leaving a bitter aftertaste. While not terrible, Youth simple isn't good enough for a director like Feng.