Starring: Luigi Lo Cascio, Alessio Boni, Maya Sansa Director: Marco Tullio Giordana The film: This is family drama at its best - clear, graceful and engaging. Peppered with vivid characters and melodramatic moments, The Best of Youth (despite a daunting six hours' duration) resembles a rich epic novel that grows in your memory. The movie, written by Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli, follows an Italian family from the 1960s to today. It's a bit slow at the beginning, but once you reach the point where the two young brothers Nicola (Luigi Lo Cascio) and Matteo (Alessio Boni) try to rescue a tortured girl from a barbaric asylum, you won't want to stop watching. Inspired by the incident, Nicola becomes a psychiatrist, while Matteo joins the army and then the police force. The brothers, who have distinctly different characters, go their separate ways, occasionally crossing each other's paths due to tumultuous events that mark the turn of contemporary Italian history and its impact on their family, which includes two sisters, an endearing mother and a lively father. Linking the stories are the relationships between Nicola and his girlfriend, Giulia (Sonia Bergamasco), a music student who turns radical and leaves the family to join the Red Brigade, and Matteo's brief and heart-breaking romance with Mirella (Maya Sansa), a Sicilian photographer. The love relationships are the twin pillars of this expansive and complex story that encompasses almost everything Italian, from politics and economy to social and family life in the past four decades. There are enough melodramatic moments for those with tender hearts, but The Best of Youth, originally made for Italian television, is neither escapism nor cheap entertainment. Director Marco Tullio Giordana has an eye for subtle moments in human relationships and the skill to extract something beautiful from life's absurdities. There are two scenes that stand out. In the first, Matteo sits in his gloomy flat contemplating his life and where he's headed. The scene, which parallels the New Year celebration of the family, is one of the most painful and shocking cinematic portrayals of a vulnerable man who refuses to accept the world as it is and panics in the face of solitude. In the other, Nicola and Mirella discover their affection for each other during a boat trip. The emotions of the characters are electric, but Giordana resists letting things become overblown, allowing them to seep through the uneasy and subtle expressions of the brilliant Cascio and Sansa. For those who've never been to Italy, the movie may serve as a quick holiday. It's shot on location in Turin, Milan, Tuscany, Palermo and Naples. Travelling to all these places in six hours is a bargain. The extras: There's plenty of material in the movie to digest, but if you're really that gluttonous, a special feature including excerpts from the film can enrich the experience.