The Great Beauty (15)

Film

Drama

The Great Beauty

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue May 21 2013

Life is a performance and Rome is the stage in ‘The Great Beauty’ from Paolo Sorrentino, the Italian director of ‘The Consequences of Love’ and ‘Il Divo’. In Sorrentino’s last film, the English-language ‘This Must Be the Place’, Sean Penn usurped Toni Servillo as the actor at the heart of Sorrentino’s strongly visual, energetic and heavily musical studies of strange, flawed men. But now Servillo is back, playing a dapper, cultured and dilettantish Roman writer Jep Gambardella, always dressed in a fine suit and finer shoes. As the film opens, he celebrates his sixty-fifth birthday with a hedonistic party in his flash apartment which overlooks the Coliseum on one side and a convent on the other. In his world, the high life meets the low life, writers and thinkers mingle with strippers and models.

Sorrentino is a filmmaker who, whenever he can, kicks words into touch in favour of an ever-moving camera, endless locations, room after room after room and characters, events and situations that are way larger than life. His cinema is big. His eye is all-seeing. He prefers snapshots and isolated episodes to straightforward tales. In his stories, the far-too-beautiful rub up against the overly grotesque. Quick wit and clever conversation are never far away.

Sorrentino is so often compared to Federico Fellini that it feels right that he has made the city of ‘La Dolce Vita’ the focus for this heady, beautiful, entrancing film. After Jep, Rome, or at least a very particular vision of it, is the other main character. It’s presented as a glorious, overwhelming place whose great architecture and even greater art only makes the idle chatter of men and women, even intellectuals like Jep, sound like the distracting shrill of nothingness.

Jep has reached a point in his life when he’s beginning to mourn lost love and missed opportunities. A visit from the widower of a teenage love distracts him from his social whirl of soirées, garden parties and dinners. It prompts flashbacks to a romance in his youth. Jep starts to wonder what he’s achieved and where it’s all heading. He wrote a novel as a young man. Could he do it again? Is he shallow, and maybe a failure? ‘You’ve changed,’ says his newspaper editor (a dwarf, naturally; this is a Sorrentino film), for whom he mainly interviews artists. ‘You’re always thinking,’ she adds.

A way of life is reaching its natural end. One of Jep’s oldest friends is leaving town. Mortality is rearing its head. Maybe that’s why we see nuns at every turn and why one of the film’s later episodes features a powerful cardinal (who only talks about cooking) and a wizened, 104-year-old Mother Theresa-like ‘saint’ (silent, mostly, and looking like a wax model) who goes to sleep on the floor of Jep’s bedroom – more usually the resting place of an entirely different kind of woman.

For much of ‘The Great Beauty’, it feels like the film may only ever be a thrilling dip into a strange, rarefied world – a world where botox is on sale at high-class clubs and a mysterious man with a briefcase full of keys gives the privileged access to Rome’s galleries in the dead of the night. But when the party slows down and the music begins to fade, ‘The Great Beauty’ creeps up on us, just as life is creeping up on Jep. It’s an exploration of all things surface, yes, but it has soul too, and just as the supremely controlled and refined Jep surprises himself by crying at a funeral, so the final power of ‘The Great Beauty’ surprises us too.

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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Sep 6, 2013

Duration:

142 mins

Cinemas showing The Great Beauty

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:27
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:3
LiveReviews|35
2 people listening
rjohngreen

Not just the film of the year (see thegramas.blogspot.com ), but the film of the decade, the film of the century and one of the best films of all time. Servillo is mesmerising in everything he does. And no wonder he keeps going back to Sorrentino, who brings out the best in him. Stunning.

Paul Murphy

Not just best foreign film - film of the year 2013. In fact, film of the decadent of the decade. Totally agree with Bernadette, Miles, Chris Bond & Amy. Stunning, emotional, endlessly inventive, beautiful, it swoops and soars to see through the beautifully empty world of the idle rich and their hangers-on. Brilliant combination of music and sound, the DoP deserves an Oscar too. I sat with my heart swelling over the end credits. Bravissimo!

s j

Pretentious dross. Paying homage to previous auteur films into protected territory where critics are too afraid to criticize. Bow down in reverence is all this expensive glossy film insists. A collage of magazine covers and trivial dialogue drivel. Dull dull dull.

Bernadette

This a superb film, a one of a kind work of art. Almost every scene a living painting, an old master. The use of chiaroscuro is stunning & echoes the religious iconography of Rome. The dark hedonism of the ageing characters contrasts starkly with the perfection of youth. The constant purposeless social repetition of their lives & their self deceit is a refrain that runs through the film. The music is haunting, beautiful & aggressive perfectly matching the different scenes we watch so closely, almost as a voyeur. Indeed a masterpiece & images from it are still resonating in my head.

Miles_ Monroe

Having loved all of Sorrentino`s previous films I had high expectations for this film. Having seen "The Great Beauty" 3 times now, this is in my opinion his finest work and my favourite film of last year. There are so many amazing scenes in this film where the visuals and score gel perfectly and you just sit there with your jaw on your lap in awe. If you don`t like this film you are having a giraffe

Miles_ Monroe

Having loved all of Sorrentino`s previous films I had high expectations for this film. Having seen "The Great Beauty" 3 times now, this is in my opinion his finest work and my favourite film of last year. There are so many amazing scenes in this film where the visuals and score gel perfectly and you just sit there with your jaw on your lap in awe. If you don`t like this film you are having a giraffe

Juliette Leech

Slow, powerful, poignant, beautiful - and beyond the view of mortal life the film documents a love affair with Rome

Juliette Leech

Slow, powerful, poignant, beautiful - and beyond the view of mortal life the film documents a love affair with Rome

maria

beautiful entertaining rubbish, one scene is completely disconnected to the next, one dialogue has nothing to do with the next.

chris

well it was disappointing , i am on the way to giving it 3 stars but.......... because i was expecting so much it gets 3...........just ok

chris bond

This film slowly draws you into a world from which you do not want to leave, beautifully photographed, great soundtrack, some priceless moments, you really feel immersed in this world, its a beautiful film about people, forget the reviewers who give it one star, this is definitely a five star movie and the best film on in London right now, I can't remember enjoying a film so much at the cinema, not since I was a child really. recommended.

chris bond

This film slowly draws you into a world from which you do not want to leave, beautifully photographed, great soundtrack, some priceless moments, you really feel immersed in this world, its a beautiful film about people, forget the reviewers who give it one star, this is definitely a five star movie and the best film on in London right now, I can't remember enjoying a film so much at the cinema, not since I was a child really. recommended.

Amy

Film of the year in my opinion. The cinematography and presence of this movie far outshines any lack of plot or story development. Watch it for the beautiful depicting of Rome, some superb conversations and several outrageously funny moments. I'm going to see it again.

Amy

Film of the year in my opinion. The cinematography and presence of this movie far outshines any lack of plot or story development. Watch it for the beautiful depicting of Rome, some superb conversations and several outrageously funny moments. I'm going to see it again.

Robert

Overrated, pretentious and vacuous. A decent soundtrack justifies the one star, but nothing else. Definitely one to miss.

paola

Overrated. Pretentious to the core. Couldn't keep my bum on the seat till the very end. Left after the second coke fueled party at his house. Maybe it's because im not an ageing man......but i dont get it. A contrast between beauty and grotesque...?? I dont know...beauty was hard to find...unless you mean the art of course.

Sutton

A superb film. One of the best films I've seen in recent years, it has everything, beautifully shot, brilliant acting, great direction that moves from one fabulous scene to another, dry humour and a nice take on life. A film that makes you reflect.

Sutton

A superb film. One of the best films I've seen in recent years, it has everything, beautifully shot, brilliant acting, great direction that moves from one fabulous scene to another, dry humour and a nice take on life. A film that makes you reflect.

Kat

Sublime, intense and fellini-like film all embraced by an embracing soundtrack. You have to see it to face the view of Sorrentino of this delusional yet hopeful Italian society. A must see without doubt.

Kat

Sublime, intense and fellini-like film all embraced by an embracing soundtrack. You have to see it to face the view of Sorrentino of this delusional yet hopeful Italian society. A must see without doubt.

Roy

Very entertaining, at times confusing but always remains an engaging maintains an interesting balance between hedonism and awkward reality. The party and fun is interspersed with tales of love, success, failure, death and the unequivocal sense in Jep that perhaps his purpose has not yet been fulfilled. A search for vanity and clarity amidst a sweep of beautiful scenery, intellectual chatter in a truly enthralling work by Sorrentino.

Roy

Very entertaining, at times confusing but always remains an engaging maintains an interesting balance between hedonism and awkward reality. The party and fun is interspersed with tales of love, success, failure, death and the unequivocal sense in Jep that perhaps his purpose has not yet been fulfilled. A search for vanity and clarity amidst a sweep of beautiful scenery, intellectual chatter in a truly enthralling work by Sorrentino.

Simon Barrett

OK, I've not seen Il Divo (another untranslatable title). Sorrentino can plainly do cinematography but not character or relationships. I loved the scenery (but how is it possible to film Rome badly?) and the comedy. Sorrentino satirizes his shallow, vain lead maybe a tenth of the time, and those bits work; the rest of the time he plainly identifies. (The Artist with a Broken Heart!) At the periphery Sorrentino does what Fellini did fifty years and more ago (though what starts out homage ends, alas, in parody); the core is one of buttock-clenching pretention. Forty characters in search of a script... My favourites? The son - and the reverend Sister!

Sally

Saw this film last night and it is wonderful. It is beautiful to watch, has a great soundtrack, some humourous moments and i highly recommend it.

Sally

Saw this film last night and it is wonderful. It is beautiful to watch, has a great soundtrack, some humourous moments and i highly recommend it.

Rosella

La grande Bellezza (the great beauty) is not easy to pinpoint, yes there is some type of erratic narrative: celebrated writer Jep Gambardella (Servillo), self-declared king of the nightlife in Rome, turns 65 (by throwing a party which would've had Berlusconi's approval-Bunga Bunga) and reminisces about life. He has never written a follow-up on his only novel, as he was too busy partying and did not find the great beauty. In reality, it is a dreamlike film, beautifully shot, filled with colours, pretensions and parodies of it, hedonism, melancholy, extravagance, bravado and just very Italian, with love and religious intermingled in it- a mixture of Fellini (La dolce vita) and Lurhman. Whether the film is art or kitsch, doesn't matter...it is a tour de force and does not bore for the 2.5 hrs it lasts- it is celebrating the mortality of man, but is actually not very deep.

David Glowacki

An aging male who lives a life of opulent decadence,His desperate efforts at staying youthful involves lusting for young female bodies and having botox injections.Yet in spite of his conquests and high living he feels life slipping away,and increasing hollowness.and sense of failure.The film is shot in that wonderful Fellini manner ie close ups of decaying,fading magnificent Roman architecture .The director captures close ups of strange faces similar to Expressionist paintings from WW1..It is sometimes confusing but certain scenes are riveting with moving dialogue.It has quite of lot of wit also..4 stars