The Great Beauty Review – True to its Name

Just back from India. I had the most amazing dysentery.
– A young woman in The Great Beauty

How do you describe something for which there’s no frame of reference in the cinematic universe.

I watched the 2013 Italian film The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza) the other night.

Bulging eyes, dropping jaws, utter rapture!

Never have I felt so fulfilled. Not even when impaled on the sword of lust has such an electric thrill coursed through me. πŸ˜‰

The Great Beauty is everything I long for in a movie (but alas seldom get) – Novelty, bewitching visual appeal, terrific writing, insights into human behavior, top-class music, unpredictable and, above all, remarkable acting.

Co-written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino, the movie follows 65-year-old journalist Jep Gambardella as he goes about Rome partying, meeting pretty girls and old friends, walking on quiet streets and occasionally interviewing artistes.

An easy going charming fellow, Jep’s claim to fame rests on an award winning book, The Human Apparatus, he authored four decades earlier.

Endless Highs

Art, religion, youth, beauty, sex, lust, love, bizarre stuff, despair, daily pettiness, regret, mortality and what have you make their appearances and exits, all with a grandeur rarely seen on the screen.

My sense is the movie is both a satire and lament on the pettiness and meaninglessness of our small lives wrapped in the engrossing membrane of a highly entertaining film.

Toni Servillo is magnifico as Jep.

Toni’s mannerisms, his walk, his smile and the way he delivers his ripostes and putdowns are for the ages. This is a man whose life’s calling is acting, acting and acting.

Among the many charms of The Great Beauty are the unpredictible roads it takes and the superb visual experience (thanks to both stellar photography and impeccable set and costume design). Never has Rome and its after-dark streets looked more beautiful.

Wonderful music is the delectable icing on the extraordinary cake that is The Great Beauty. My favorite pieces were Far l’amore (Bob Sinclar & Raffaella CarrΓ ) and We no speak americano (Studio Allstars). Both are part of my iTunes music collection.

No movie ever has been accompanied by such a glorious soundtrack. The music never stops, in the movie and, later, in your head.

Great art doesn’t have to cost a great fortune. See, The Great Beauty was made on a modest budget of €9.2 million.

Besides picking up awards at the Golden Globe and Bafta functions, The Great Beauty took the honors in the Best Foreign Film category at the last Oscars.

No, there’s not much about India in the movie save that single dystentery line, perhaps an Indian girl in a party scene and a brief shot of a Saradarji.

The Great Beauty was nothing short of a cinematic epiphany for me. cannot recommend the Italian masterpiece The Great Beauty too strongly enough.

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