The SF Chronicle’s picky movie reviewers are notorious for being tough as nails when awarding their highest rating – the image of the little man jumping out of his chair and clapping. But today’s review of just-released Italian film, “La Grande Bellezza” – or “The Great Beauty” for the American market – did just that. The little man is smiling, he’s clapping, he’s jumping and ecstatic. His hat even falls to the floor. I’m ecstatic too and I haven’t even seen the movie yet.
Toni Servillo stars as Jep Gambardelle, turning 65, jaded from early success as a writer and experiencing an “awakening.”
“The Great Beauty” is directed by Paolo Sorrentino and was a big favorite when first previewed at the 2013 Festival de Cannes.
Lovers of Italy can spend more than two hours falling in love (again) with Rome (with all its decadence, beautiful and ugly) while immersing in the language since the movie is in Italian with English subtitles. The reviewer notes that you can’t watch “The Great Beauty” without thinking of Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” with Rome as the movie’s focus.
Like “La Dolce Vita”, this movie is going to throw more at you than just a tour of the city’s sights and high society. An excerpt from the SF Chronicle review reads (you can read the review in its entirety here):
“Toni Servillo plays Jep Gambardelle who wrote a masterpiece of a novel in his youth but has been unable to repeat the success. He’s become a journalist and bon vivant, living in an incredible apartment overlooking the Colosseum. He’s popular in his circle but jaded, and, having just turned 65, is starting to look at the big picture. When news arrives of an old girlfriend’s death, he continues to make the rounds of high-end gatherings and nightspots in the Eternal City, but in a “what’s it all mean” frame of mind. He informs us that once he wanted to be the king of Rome’s extravagant night world. But he no longer wholly buys into his cynicism, if he ever did. Delivering acerbic witticisms at over-the-top parties isn’t much of a purpose in life. The plot is…. a running account of what Jep sees and says during his often surreal urban wanderings. “
Something to put on the holiday movie list? You got me at Fellini.