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89 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oscar material
Totally disagree with the previous review. thought the movie was incredibly engrossing and enjoyed every minute of the 2hr30min duration. For starters, it's a feast for the eyes. Rome itself and the way it is portrayed through the director's beautiful camera work would be enough of a spectacle even without the otherwise beautiful thought-provoking lines the film is...
Published 15 months ago by Carmelo

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Great Waste of Time
It was like a sequence of adverts for perfume separated by adverts for Rome as a holiday destination. I doubt even the French could make a film this pretentious. If any of the characters had dropped dead at any point you just wouldn't have cared a jot. Never a good sign.
Published 27 days ago by Mick


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89 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oscar material, 17 Sep 2013
This review is from: The Great Beauty [DVD] (DVD)
Totally disagree with the previous review. thought the movie was incredibly engrossing and enjoyed every minute of the 2hr30min duration. For starters, it's a feast for the eyes. Rome itself and the way it is portrayed through the director's beautiful camera work would be enough of a spectacle even without the otherwise beautiful thought-provoking lines the film is punctuated with. I must disagree about the presumed missing depiction of the beauty of ordinary peoples' lives too. In fact it is admirably represented by the likes of Ramona who is a genuine woman devoid of all pretension and yet capable of deep thoughts, such as when she says to a jaded Jep after a night spent together: 'It was great not having sex, it's great being fond of one another', leaving him stunned. Other 'ordinary' people who are juxtaposed to the vacuous partying multitude are Jep's friend, the playwright, who eventually decides to leave that empty world behind and go back to his home village. The theme of going back to one's roots being elegantly represented with a food metaphor through the words of yet another ordinary-extraordinary person who couldn't be further away from the Roman jet set, the saint-nun, who claims she only eats 40 grams of roots a day, because 'roots are important'. I could go on and on, because I was totally mesmerized by this movie, not to mention its soundtrack. I derived absolute pleasure from watching the movie til the end of the credits. Hopefully you will be too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Illusion, 18 Dec 2014
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Great Beauty [DVD] (DVD)
Paolo Sorrentino’s Oscar-winning 'epic’ could, indeed, lay claim to the title of Jean Renoir’s 1937 masterpiece being, as it is, one of the most cutting satires on the pretences of modern (Italian) life, as well as being one of the most stunning pieces of visual art, to have graced cinema screens in recent times (for which, congratulations to The Academy for bestowing its prize). Of course, some (many? – myself included) have accused Sorrentino’s cinema of representing 'style over substance’ and there are 'suspicions’ of that in this tale of Toni Servillo’s increasingly world-weary hedonist and journalist, 65-year old Jep Gambardella and his gradual coming to terms with his superficial, wasted existence, but (in the end) Servillo’s nuanced, increasingly human, performance, the sharp dialogue (which Sorrentino co-wrote with Umberto Contarello) and the film’s sheer visual brilliance (courtesy of regular cinematographer Luca Bigazzi) carries the day for me.

That’s not to say that The Great Beauty is a flawless work. Its episodic nature, generally unsympathetic characters and near two-and-a-half hour length will put off some, but Sorrentino’s ear for witty dialogue and (particularly) eye for panoramic sweeps or idiosyncratic detail provides a near endless stream of engaging set-pieces – for me, his visual sense is only rivalled (from film-makers of the last couple of decades) by Krzysztof Kieslowski. Here, of course, Sorrentino has the (obvious) benefit of his titular Rome as his subject – architectural splendour abounds, 'the old is better than the new’ – but the Neapolitan is equally adept with the modern world, here particularly during his parodies of 'modern art’ (the hilarious sequence featuring Anita Kravos’ 'conceptual artist’, Talia Concept, 'I’m an artist – I don’t need to explain jack sh!t’). Servillo, of course, steals the acting honours, mixing superficial pretence, scathing put-downs (such as during the key scene where he lambasts 'friend’ Galatea Ranzi’s Stefania) and emerging empathy with equal aplomb – the latter as he learns of the recent death of his childhood sweetheart in the film’s key narrative thread and then breaks one of his own 'social rules’ at the funeral of a friend’s son. Indeed, Sorrentino’s cast is uniformly strong but a particular mention must also go to (for me, a recently discovered 'star’) Robert Herlitzka’s (near) film-stealing performance as the hilarious, pensive, culinary-obsessive, Cardinal Belucci, during the film’s outstanding final half-hour.

In the end, despite its flaws, The Great Beauty takes in (and satirises) to impressive effect most of the key elements of modern humanity (of course, with an Italian bent) including art, religion, sex, food, family, fashion and football (look out for that Francesco Totti reference early on!). I would also highly recommend seeing the film on a big screen in order to fully appreciate the spectacular visuals – in particular, the film’s exquisite seven minute closing tracking shot along the Tiber to Vladimir Martynov’s superbly evocative The Beatitudes (played by The Kronos Quartet) – one of the most stunning closing sequences I’ve seen in a long time (probably since that in Terence Davies’ The Long Day Closes, in fact).
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning and profound treatise on beauty, mortality, impermanence and death, 28 Aug 2014
By 
FA Vine (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Great Beauty (DVD)
Intense, ironically beautiful and at times almost surreal, this is essentially a stunning and profound treatise, expounded with few words and a skeletal, almost non-existent plot, on the limitations of beauty and the elusiveness of happiness in the face of mortality, impermanence and, ultimately, death. Its cascade of startling imagery and quick-fire dialogue, when indeed there is dialogue at all, belies the slow pace of its unfolding theme and meaning; as such, it is perhaps a little over-long and is thus not a film for those of an impatient disposition or short attention span. It is, nonetheless, an amazing achievement, aesthetically, stylistically, technically and philosophically, leavened by laugh-out-loud moments prompted by its sparse but sharp script and an often sudden, powerful and surprising juxtaposition of images. Despite its flaws (and isn't all beauty, after all, ultimately flawed?), I strongly recommend this film to anyone with any kind of enduring interest in cinema and/or the deeper questions of our frail existence.
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36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly stunning, 28 Oct 2013
This review is from: The Great Beauty [DVD] (DVD)
Words - so little to describe so much. I don't mean to sound pretentious or even coy, just gobsmacked at the beauty and variety and depth and shallowness and joy and I loved it. I walked home and the stars seemed brighter and I felt glad to be here on this planet.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sumptuous, dazzling, witty and perverse, 28 Oct 2013
By 
Thomas Beale (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Great Beauty [DVD] (DVD)
A poignant meditation on life undertaken via a voyeuristic tour through Rome, and the lives of some of its most stylish denizens, arguably also the most spiritually lost. The photography is simply beautiful. Although there is no real story, the thread of reflection of the main character provides the logic of the film. Some of the dialogues are laugh out loud hilarious, other situations leave a taste of emptiness and regret. The real subject is the problem of purpose. Of course there are no answers, but it's hard to imagine a more wonderful way to contemplate the question.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Great Waste of Time, 30 Nov 2014
By 
This review is from: The Great Beauty (DVD)
It was like a sequence of adverts for perfume separated by adverts for Rome as a holiday destination. I doubt even the French could make a film this pretentious. If any of the characters had dropped dead at any point you just wouldn't have cared a jot. Never a good sign.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films I have seen., 5 Nov 2014
This review is from: The Great Beauty [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I can't really improve on DavyG's review. This is a magnificent film, one of the best I have seen. It is about the big issues - life, death, time, and relationships. I understand that like other iconic films (eg 2001) it polarises opinion. I was mesmerised by it.
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life as Art, 16 Sep 2013
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Great Beauty [DVD] (DVD)
The "Great Beauty" is the Rome that tourists too often miss, with sunlight playing on fountains and ancient intricate carvings, the haunting voices of choirs floating from balconies, children playing tag with white-robed nuns in lush green gardens glimpsed through stone archways.

Wealthy writer Jep Gambardella knows Rome well, but his appreciation of its beauty is heightened when, in the middle of his extravagant 65th birthday party he is struck by the decadence and vacuity of his life. Later, in post-dinner balcony drinks, the shallowness and empty pretentiousness of so-called close friends becomes almost intolerable. The death of a long-lost girl friend who apparently always loved him from a distance may also remind him of what might have been.

Made sharply aware that time is running out on his dilettante life, Jep does not do much about it, apart from take up with an ageing stripper with a heart, mocked by his snobbish friends for her name Ramona and choice of a see-through dress on her first outing with him. Great beauty seems inseparable from moments of soft porn. Apart from making a visually stunning film, full of people with striking features, often reduced to "living works of art" in their designer costumes, I am unsure what the director Sorrentino is trying to achieve. I would have liked more of a plot, and although I do not mind a film that is largely about visual design combined with music and a few witty comments, at nearly two-and-a-half hours, this is not quite enough to sustain one's interest, plus the frenetic partying became oppressive. Watching all this began to seem perhaps more questionable than the privileged self-delusion and emptiness of the existences lived out in the film.

I felt I could not win with this film which is overlong and rambling yet leaves embedded in the mind the same powerful visual images you would get from visiting a gallery of remarkable artworks. Walking out mid-way would leave a sense of having missed out on memorable scenes. Sitting it out may seem like a waste of time: one "gets the message" in the first half, and then there is nowhere else to go. I was a little disappointed that Sorrentino focuses on the idle rich, and does not show us the beauty of ordinary lives, despite their pain and disappointment.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Masterpiece., 8 Oct 2014
This review is from: The Great Beauty [DVD] (DVD)
I expect that on leaving the cinema at the end of a film, most people, whatever their taste, generally believe that they've been reasonably entertained in return for parting with their hard-earned cash.
Occasionally however, we may be lucky enough to leave understanding that we've just witnessed something much more, something profound. Such was my feeling at the conclusion of this marvellous work, a further collaboration between director Paolo Sorrentino and his star, the magnificent Toni Servillo.
Servillo plays Jep, a writer in late middle age, who once wrote what might (or might not!) have been The Great Italian Novel. Ever since, he claims to have been searching for a new "grand inspiration", the "Great Beauty" of the film's title. At least, that's his excuse for a life of indulgence spent drifting among Rome's hedonistic "beautiful people"; the performance artists and writers, fashionistas, bon viveurs and self-styled trendsetters whose artistic pretensions mask baser instincts that are driven by sex, drugs, alcohol and money.
The film is well over two hours long, and doesn't have what could be called a developing narrative. Instead, we drift with Jep through situations, encounters and relationships, experiencing the world through his weary, cynical eyes, and mocking it with the humorous, barely concealed contempt he lavishes on it, but most of all, upon himself.
In my view this film is a magnificent achievement, and huge credit must go to director Sorrentino, who has taken every element in the process, from script and performers to locations, score and cinematography, and created a seamless, perfect whole. It's stunningly beautiful, absurd, surreal, suffused with loneliness, bitter hilarity and aching sadness. Magnificent, inspirational, spell-binding; I've thrown in a few more superlatives, just to make sure! For me, "The Great Beauty" is not so much a film, more a work of art, and is without doubt the finest piece of work I've seen in the last ten years. Five stars? I'd give it six, no ten, if the rating system would let me; it really is that good. An occasion when use of the term "masterpiece" really is warranted.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful photography but dull as ditchwater, 11 July 2014
By 
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This review is from: The Great Beauty [DVD] (DVD)
Beautiful photography but dull as ditchwater. Gave it to some Italians (aged 60) who reported it to be the film to end their lives by. Shame, had hoped for something accessible, rather than something pretentious.
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The Great Beauty [Blu-ray]
The Great Beauty [Blu-ray] by Paolo Sorrentino (Blu-ray - 2014)
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