The Great Beauty

Bill I’s Review – 4 out of 5

It’s surreal, there’s not much of a plot in the traditional sense, and the co-lead is a city (Rome). The cinematography is incredible, with many scenes that are pieces of art (including the closing credits, don’t rush out), and a perfect backdrop of music. There’s a message in this film, which is that there is beauty to be found in this life, and we should recognize it before it’s too late. Paolo Sorrentino is the director and writer, and he’s created an homage to Fellini. I remember seeing Roma years ago, and this film doesn’t seem to be quite such a masterpiece. The leading character, Jep, is the king of high life, with a day job as a journalist, having written a hit novel that he has never been able to duplicate. He lives in a cool apartment overlooking the Coliseum, and everyone seems to adore him, and ask him to write the next great novel. He turns 65 and has a fabulous party, but starts to reassess his sybaritic lifestyle, wondering what happened to his first (and apparently only) true love. The vignettes are extraordinary – a super high end botox parlor, a high end party (the only kind in this film) by a renowned modern art collector who forces his 10 year old daughter to perform for his guests (she splashes paint like a young Jackson Pollack on angel dust), a flock of resting flamingoes (?) that are seemingly at the beck and call of a Mother Theresa like figure. I could go on, but this is not a film that can be easily described. Don’t see it unless you are prepared to be dazzled and have the patience for 140 minutes while no one gets shot, screwed (at least on screen) or chased in a car. Oh, there’s some funny moments, of the absurd variety.

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