The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza) (15)

Directed by Paolo Sorrentino
Starring Carlo Verdone, Sabrina Ferilli, Toni Servillo
FACT, Liverpool
From 13th September 2013

Reviewed by Darren Guy

"The movie is a masterpiece, a grand swooning epic, lush to the point of insanity," according to an article in the Guardian.

The Great Beauty kept my interest throughout, which is something to commend I suppose for a film that didn't touch me. It had no structure, no beginning, middle or end, and the characters were paper-thin, But maybe that was the point of the film. It was like its characters - having said that it was beautiful visually, with the camera gliding in and out, up and downcapturing Rome in all its glory. Maybe that was the point. The movie was meant to be as superficial as the lifestyles of the people in it.

The Great Beauty is set in Rome and based on the coming and goings of a local playboy and socialite Jep Gambardella (Tony Servillo), who once wrote a great book in his youth. We find out in the closing stages why he never wrote another one. The film includes scenes of elitist parties full of rich people, with cocaine freely available, and attended by middle to elderly aged botox puffed people, surrounded by beautiful dancing women, harassed by sleazy guys. It vividly illustrates the empty hedonistic lives of the wealthy but desperately lonely middle-aged Italians searching for meaning, connection and culture in their alienated lives. Gamberdella has a little more soul and understanding than the rest, and is observant of what is around him. We see his emotions suddenly being stirred when he is visited by the former lover of his first romantic liaison. With the tragic news of her death, both men for a while are devastated, with Jep having a series of flashbacks of that first love. The audience could not be blamed for thinking this might be the point when Jep turns his life around and the film develops meaning and tenderness, but this is not the case. Although he does meet Ramona (Sabrina Ferilli), a middle-aged stripper, who is one of the only real characters shown in the whole film, but who, for a brief period, seems to add some type of meaning to his life.

If you have a couple of hours to spare and want to chill out and get a slice of the life of rich superficial people, shot with great cinematography, then go and see the The Great Beauty.

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