The Great Beauty
(La grande bellezza) Director: Paolo Sorrentino, I-F, 2013, Italian, French version / Czech subtitles, 142 min
Journalist Jep Gambardella, author of a single novel, cool king of fashionable soirees, caustically ironic commentator and tireless Casanova, is celebrating his 65th birthday. The aging playboy, who lives within sight of the Colosseum, seems to be one of the few people to know the secrets of Rome – the Eternal City, submerged in the shadows of its grand past. But the blinding yet empty metropolis he strolls through with such elegance also seems to reflect the emptiness and futility of Jep’s actions and the antics of his friends, who carouse until sunrise. He begins to ask himself questions that he had previously ignored, and through his mask of irony we begin to see his disgust with others and himself. Waiting for the next film by Paolo Sorrentino, one of the most intriguing filmmakers around today, is a little like waiting for a drug whose effects provide an irresistible and vibrant combination of beauty and sorrow.
Reminiscent of the work of Federico Fellini, this intoxicating existentialist oeuvre with hints of the grotesque was one of the biggest attractions at the recent festival in Cannes. Toni Servillo, always excellent and always innovative, plays the main protagonist.