Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Great Beauty

Paolo Sorrentino's admittedly Fellini-inspired "The Great Beauty" falls well short of the master.

It tells of Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), a well-connected and well-to-do Roman of 65 who parlayed his only novel, written as a young man, into the deanship of the city's nightlife. The best scenes in the movie show Jep at the center of this gay social whirl, at its heart yet somehow outside it, surrounded by it. Sorrentino also commits to film here a Rome fuller of natural and man-made beauty than any other world city. But I wonder what a director as gifted as Sofia Coppola would have done with this kindred-spirit material - surely more than the dime-store nihilism Jep offers by way of endless voice-overs. He and the film escape their torpor only intermittently, as when he lowers the boom on a prudish party hack who rubs everyone's noses in her prominent marriage and shelves of published books. At almost two-and-a-half hours, "The Great Beauty" had my audience walking out in droves.

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