The Great Beauty

(La grande bellezza)
(Italy, France, 2013, 142 mins, DCP)
CAST Toni Servillo, Carlo Verdone, Sabrina Ferilli, Carlo Buccirosso, Iaia Forte, Pamela Villoresi
PRODS Nicola Giuliano, Francesca Cima
SCR Paolo Sorrentino, Umberto Contarello
CAM Luca Bigazzi
ED Cristiano Travaglioli
PROD DES Stefania Cella
MUS Lele Marchitelli
PROD CO Indigo Film / Babe Films / Pathé Production / France 2 Cinéma


Rome is the Eternal City, but it is also one of the great cities of cinema, which means continuous change and flow. The Great Beauty… plunges headlong into the current. All you can do is plunge in there with it and clamber out two-and-a-half hours later, sopping wet, gulping the air and perhaps having lost a shoe… [Paolo] Sorrentino’s picture sets out to explain Rome today, as city, mindset and belief system. That’s a fantastically ambitious project, but other Italian filmmakers have been spurred to action in the past by similarly fantastic ambitions, and thank goodness they were: we have Rome, Open City and La Dolce Vita to show for it… Rossellini covered the Nazi occupation of 1944; Fellini the seductive, empty hedonism of the years that followed. Sorrentino’s plan is to do the same for the Berlusconi era. His film is a carnival of loosely connected vignettes, set at all-night parties, high society jamborees and shadowy religious congresses…

The eye of this storm is Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), a playboy of pensionable age who made his fortune as a journalist and his reputation with a novel called "The Human Apparatus"…

Can The Great Beauty really stand alongside Rome, Open City and La Dolce Vita? Check back in half a century. Until then, all that matters is that it might, and theoretically could. It certainly soars above Sorrentino’s earlier work and is by far the most ambitious film to have screened so far in the [Cannes’] competition strand; a shimmering coup de cinema to make your heart burst, your mind swim and your soul roar.—Robbie Collin, Telegraph

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