Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza)

I’d recently been bemoaning the paucity of great non-English speaking films this year.

There have been good, even very good, films like Blue Is The Warmest Color, Touch Of Sin and Blancanieves, but no The Intouchables, Tell No One or The Secret In Their Eyes.

However, today, I saw The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza), whose protagonist, writer Jeb Gambardella (Tony Servillo), has spent his life searching in vain for “the great beauty,” and, unfortunately, didn’t see this film…which might have provided his success. 
It’s been over 50 years since Federico Fellini’s great La Dolce Vita hit the screen, but, according to Writer/Director Paolo Sorrentino, not much has changed in the way of decadence and emptiness.  But, Rome, in which the story takes place, is the Eternal City and these themes are, also, eternal. 

Gambardella is a one-book novelist, who has been a feature at every party and event of Rome’s glitterati for over 40 years.  But, turning 65, he is, now, reviewing the meaning of his life…his personal losses, failings and despair.

Thanks to the incredible cinematography of Luca Bigazzi, crisp editing of Cristiano Travaglioli and music of Lele Marchitelli, the viewer is treated to modern Rome’s high life and low morality.  They, aptly, support Sorrentino’s love/hate relationship with the Italian capitol. 

I’m not going to delve into the lush and deep story, so I don’t ruin the experience for you. 

The Great Beauty is a must-see and, if it does not get the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, something is very, very wrong.  I give it a richly deserved 5 out of 5.

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