The Great Beauty

The Great Beauty is a decadent slice of Italian baroque. Paolo Sorrentino’s film invites us into the upper tiers of society in Rome, where the bellinis flow as freely as the botox. 

Toni Servillo, Sorrentino’s longtime collaborator, plays Jep Gambardella – an eligible elder bachelor best-known for a successful novel he wrote in his twenties. Jep carouses through the city’s most fashionable circles, becoming increasingly disillusioned with the slick self-satisfaction of his peers.

In this world, showiness and superficiality reign supreme – but flashy luxury can’t numb the underlying sense of hollowness. Gradually, Jep begins to realise that wealth doesn’t ensure happiness – and that no amount of gallivanting will drown out grief. 

 

 

Rome’s ruins form an operatic backdrop, and each scene is immersed in an atmosphere of exquisite over-indulgence. Jep is a first-class flâneur, a leonine figure who strolls through the streets in sharp suits, his movements traced by Sorrentino’s signature sweeping shots. 

Stitched together as a series of vignettes, Jep’s experiences often have a surreal quality, like flashbacks from a half-remembered party. There are cameos from cardinals, and European parties soundtracked by “We No Speak Americano”. Each encounter brings Jep closer to a crucial turning point – an opportunity to rediscover his creativity and, with it, a renewed resolve.

 

 

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