The Great Beauty

The Great Beauty


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Picking up some of the threads of Federico Fellini's classic La Dolce Vita some five decades further down the line Il Divo director Paolo Sorrentino’s new film uncovers the continuing moral chaos and confusion of the denizens of the Eternal City.

Checking in at an over-ambitious 135 minutes - and at times it certainly feels like it - there are undoubtedly enough pleasurable and engaging moments to see us through.

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Toni Servillo, a magnetic actor in whatever role he assumes, plays Jep Gambardella, the suave journalist who moved to Rome in the 1970s and whose claim to fame was his only novel, The Human Apparatus. At the start of the film he is celebrating his 65th birthday.

Now, he writes a gossip column of sorts and moves around within a wide circle of friends, attending parties and social occasions for the moneyed elite (just like Marcello Mastroianni did all those years ago). Usually these high life get-togethers are set against Rome’s iconic backdrops such as the Colosseum and the Via Veneto.

Sorrentino proves himself adept at satire, contributing many humourous moments such as an ancient Cardinal played by Roberto Herlitzka (a candidate for Pope) who prefers to avoid spiritual discussions in favour of cooking.

Carlo Verdone, one of Italy’s most beloved comedy actors, also provides comic relief as Servillo’s frustrated writer friend while Sabrina Ferilli has some of the best lines as a jaded stripper well over her prime.

Rome has always been one of the great cities of cinema from Rome Open City, Mama Roma, to La Dolce Vita and Fellini Roma - here its beauty hides an empty and chaotic interior.

Sorrentino dares to tread where the great have gone before and leaves his own distinctive mark.

Reviewed on: 26 May 2013
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The Great Beauty packshot
An ageing writer recalls the passions of his youth.
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Director: Paolo Sorrentino

Writer: Paolo Sorrentino, Umberto Contarello

Starring: Toni Servillo, Carlo Verdone, Sabrina Ferilli, Carlo Buccirosso, Iaia Forte, Pamela Villoresi, Galatea Ranzi

Year: 2013

Runtime: 135 minutes

Country: Italy, France

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