Rome has never been so cruel, beautiful and nostalgic as it is in Paolo Sorrentino’s sixth feature. The Great Beauty (original title, La Grande Bellezza) is a real treasure of cinematographic emotion, a perfect picture of human decadence.
Journalist Jep Gambardella arrives in Rome aged 26 with the promise of a debut novel on his mind. Nearly 40 disillusioned years later, at 65, he is finally enjoying newfound literary success, and can’t bear the decadent way of life he has settled for anymore. Actors, aristocrats, intellectuals and artists are all he has left, and they’re in bad shape, even if they party hard to pretend their lives are extraordinary.
A wonderful reflection on love, life, death and friendship, Sorrentino explores regrets and nostalgia while celebrating life anyway. It’s fascinating, funny, sad, ridiculous and always splendid, with brilliant religious and social satire thrown in. Luca Bigazzi’s cinematography embraces Rome, its antique palaces and outrageous villas, compounded by a perfect soundtrack echoing futility and absurdity.
Toni Servillo’s interpretation of Gambardella is delicious: this tremendous veteran actor convincingly casts a cynical, sentimental eye over everything and everyone around him, even himself. Both eternally amused and sad at the same time, Servillo becomes a gentleman who loves women and drinks too much, looking at the sea from his bed.
La Grande Bellezza is a movie that can’t be described because it needs to be lived. It’s current, electrifying, contemplative, disturbing, wonderful: it’s pure cinema.
Read more reviews from Cannes Film Festival here.
For further information about the festival visit the official website here.
Watch the trailer for The Great Beauty here