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95 of 105 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 20 months ago by Carmelo

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
This is my personal view and, of course, it may well be completely wrong.

I didn't enjoy this film at all. If I hadn't known that it was an Italian film I would have said it was one of those heavy French films. Slow from the beginning to the end. Also at times awkwardly noisy.

It offers an insight of a certain current decadent layer of Roman high...
Published 4 months ago by ETNA


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95 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oscar material, 17 Sept. 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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10 of 11 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
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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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6 of 7 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
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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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39 of 46 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films I have seen., 5 Nov. 2014
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Heart's In The Highlands, 1 Mar. 2015
By 
Charles Vasey (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Great Beauty [DVD] (DVD)
Paulo Sorrentino's films build up slowly, in this case operating of pulses of action from party to night time walks in Rome to surreal interiors and exteriors and back again. Accompanied by wonderful photography and a fine score the story circles rather than progresses around the life of Jep Gambardella, a socialite journalist whose career (if such it be) is based on one novel and a lot of acquaintances. But it is also an excuse to peregrinate around Rome, a city that appears almost as an organism unchanged by its human inhabitants. This is not narrative cinema, but it is very good.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The expense of spirit in a waste of shame, 16 Jan. 2015
By 
technoguy "jack" (Rugby) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Great Beauty [DVD] (DVD)
The Great Beauty is Paolo Sorrentino’s love letter to Italian cinema,Roman decadence, La Dolce Vita in the character of Jep Gambardella (Tony Servillo),who is a man,who is now 65,a journalist,who once wrote a famous first novel,who never quite fulfilled his promise, but instead came to Rome to be the king of the nightlife of endless partying, surrounded by beautiful women (of which he’s bedded a few) and the upper classes,art,culture,bourgeois extravagance,happenings.He is a giddy butterfly, going from party to party,tasting the giddy nectar of hedonism. He is shewn celebrating his 65th birthday in his rooftop apartment,dancing the night away,with a great smile on his lugubrious face.He’s a flaneur,a voyeur of the beautiful young things,near-at-hand, he serves as a confidant and friend of the not-so-young,but beautifully preserved (by botox injections) of those who wish to cling on to their youth. He is haunted by his past,getting flashbacks to his youth,to the girl he truly loved.He dreams of the sea as he falls asleep glimpsed in the ceiling above his bed, a memory of a day they spent together,when he swam alone as a motorboat approached and she looked out concerned from the beach as he dived below to avoid catastrophe.

Gambardella meets early on the husband of his lost love,who brings news of her death, and he is so shaken,he takes stock of this empty life-style,giving way to more spiritual concerns.He weeps at the funeral of a friend’s son.Although there are more parties, visits to restaurants and night-time walks with his new stripper girl friend; soon a Mother Teresa-type figure and a cardinal,who is shaping up to be a future Pope,more interested in food than spiritual matters,begin to appear. What I would criticise in the film is a concern with beauty without object-statues and stones and fountains and marble interiors are shot caressingly.The only anchor is the ensemble cast,but chiefly Servillo as the world-weary,but sensual protagonist.There is no plot or story line,the exuberant visuals swoop and glide;the music is a mix of electro-pop and classical.The concentration on the unapologetic wealth of the” 1 percenters” is a bit overindulgent for my tastes.This is a Rome without its poor or its famous dark side. Style without substance? Flaubert is quoted as saying he wanted to write about nothing.Sorrentino has almost achieved this with Gambardello as his guide. Of the two great film-makers,Fellini and Antonioni,he has preferred Fellini. I think he chose the wrong one.A bit more spareness, strangeness,silence and solitude for me.
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29 of 35 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
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking, 20 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: The Great Beauty (DVD)
Imagery that is both beautiful and memorable. Dialogue that is intellingent and witty. Scenes that are absurb yet intriguing. Overall sense of futility but asking the question - what is it about this absurd life that makes us want to carry on and join in that daft conga line of overdressed over privileged Roman high lifers. Thought provoking - five stars for treating us like adults and, well, treating us to this movie.
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4 of 5 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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The Great Beauty [Blu-ray]
The Great Beauty [Blu-ray] by Paolo Sorrentino (Blu-ray - 2014)
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