The Great Beauty


“The title of The Great Beauty isn’t meant to describe the movie itself, but it still does. This is a film of visual rapture, a dose of aesthetic bliss that reminds us what kind of spell the medium can cast in the right hands.Those hands belong to Paolo Sorrentino, an Italian maestro who has earned comparison to the Italian maestro Federico Fellini. It’s easy to see why. Like La Dolce Vita, The Great Beauty concerns an underachieving lifestyle journalist stewing in the long-simmering malaise of a spiritually decaying Rome. Like 8½, Sorrentino’s film floats ecstatically on a sea of free-associative and surreal thoughts and images.

“The Great Beauty can be read as an indictment of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s frivolous Italy, or, on a more expansive level, a story of empire’s decline. The camera zooms and hovers, retreats and mercilessly observes as Servillo’s Jep Gambardella drinks with his hyperarticulate friends and observes one ridiculous but bracing art concept after another. Jep moved to Rome 40 years ago, wrote one well-received novella and then lived out a hollow dream of lording over Rome’s night life. Sorrentino pulls off a shrewd paradox. His portrait of empty decadence insists that we be seduced by the same sensations that made Jep a slave to his baser instincts.

“That’s all well and good, but you could watch The Great Beauty with the sound turned down and come away dazzled. Go ahead. Soak up the Beauty. It’s one of the best films of the year.” - Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News

The Fashion of The Great Beauty - from the Criterion Collection


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