98 of 109 people found the following review helpful
on 17 September 2013
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 28 August 2014
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Paulo Sorrentino's films build up slowly, in this case operating with 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.
on 21 June 2014
Paolo Sorrentino’s Oscar-winning film ‘The Great Beauty’ reunites him with his regular collaborator Toni Servillo, in an ambitious film which tries to make sense of the eternal city of Rome in the 21st century.
Servlllo plays Jep Gambardella, a well-known journalist who also wrote a novel in his 20s. He’s also the man who knows absolutely everyone who is anyone in Rome, the king of socialites. Jep turns 65 with yet another brazenly lavish party in a city which seems to be living it up nightly. He spends his days and nights wandering the streets of a city he knows as intimately as he does its residents. Occasionally still working as a journalist, this cultivated gentleman is content enough to breeze past life without a care in the world.
For Jep, Rome has everything he needs, he has no need to go anywhere else. We journey through Jep’s decadent life of really doing nothing at all, meeting various friends who all seemingly have the same carefree attitude to life as he does. Sorrentino mocks everyone from the bronzed old-moneyed rich and powerful, to religious figures, artists and writers and even the mafia. Jep shows us Rome in all its decaying glory, whilst assessing his own trivial existence. The past intermingles with the present, reality with memories and dreams. Jep typifies the self-delusional attitude of many in this film, continuously seeking something that has meaning but cops out every time. Ageing has just made him more indifferent, resigning himself to yet more disappointment.
Sorrentino balances Rome’s often hollow ostentation with melancholia and a genuine love for the delights of this beautiful city, many of which are often hidden from the public. With such a sumptuous city for inspiration, its no surprise that this film looks absolutely dazzling. Thanks mainly to a fine performance from Servillo, its easy to get lost in ‘The Great Beauty’ which has a nostalgic charm which is both amusing and endearing, and its certainly Sorrentino’s best film. A real treat for the summer months.
39 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on 28 October 2013
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.
on 27 February 2014
I can't remember the last time I have been so mesmerized by a films visuals than this. Breathtaking- if ever a film was made to be seen at the cinema it is this so watch it on the largest screen you can! I think this film needs to be seen more than once to really appreciate and understand it tho. I really enjoyed the performance by lead actor Toni Servillo and will be on the lookout for more of his, and the Director's, other films.
I found much of the film difficult to understand upon 1st viewing but certain scenes from the film stayed in my head for days afterwards. If you like Italian cinema you will love this but it is a film that is definitely not for everyone tho in my opinion.
Genius cinematography and a somewhat difficult, complex story that I think will be regarded as a classic in future years. Grab a nice glass of wine, sit back and relax and let the beauty of Rome wash over you.
29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 28 October 2013
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.
24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
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
on 20 January 2015
I first saw The Great Beauty about six months as a rental from Love Film. At the time I thought it was an interesting film with a memorable soundtrack, but nothing out of the ordinary. However, I found myself weeks later having what I can only describe as "flashbacks" to images and pieces of music from the film. Based on these occurrences I revisited some of the reviews on Amazon and came away thinking that I had maybe missed something the first time round. So after much debating with myself I decided to buy the Blu Ray. What a revelation on the second viewing. I cannot say that everyone who watches this film will feel the same but it struck so many chords, not just with me, but I would imagine with many people. Professional critics are much more adept at describing the nuances and inner meanings of this film than I am. But at the end of the day it left a lasting impression on me, and at the end of the day I suppose that is what good cinema is supposed to do. A couple of other points, the soundtrack is both haunting and uplifting, so much so that I have bought that as well. As for the cinematography, well, if I was the Italian Tourist Board I would be hijacking some of the images of Rome to use in my advertising campaign, and of course the Blu Ray just makes it seem so much better.