Paolo Sorrentino’s new movie, The Great Beauty (2013), is itself a beauty (great or otherwise) set in beautiful Rome.  It is the large-scale film Fellini should have made instead of La Dolce Vita and Satyricon, both failures, for it is a patently intelligent, always captivating satire-and-then-some about the Roman leisure class.  Now 65, Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo) is a writer and interviewer, the heterosexual Truman Capote who sought to live the high life but inevitably feels he has ended up a nobody.  Cleverness about Jep’s plight, among other things, scarcely abates: e.g. when the man asks a priest if it is true that he used to be a highly effective exorcist, the priest simply responds with a sacramental over Jep.

Luca Bigazzi wisely photographed with a toned-down attention to beauty, and there is dazzling camera use.  Galatea Renzi, Sabrina Ferilli, and others are genuinely lovely middle-aged women.  Music and dance are gangbusters.  Sorrentino’s film is almost about itself and nothing else, but not quite.  It’s better than that.

(In Italian with English subtitles)


Italian film director and screenwriter Paolo S...

Italian film director and screenwriter Paolo Sorrentino (Photo credit: Wikipedia)