The Great Beauty

The Great Beauty ★★★★½

I'm sure many have said the same praise, the obvious that first springs to mind, that The Great Beauty lives up to its title as being among the most beautiful films I have ever seen. It is damn near flawless in terms of technicality providing a visual and auditory soirée for the senses. But most of all it achieves exactly what the conception of theatrical film is suppose to do, it gives the audience escapism of the most grand and lavish proportions. Taken to another world filled with beauty in music and sight all around me, what more could I ask for?

Another praise or accredited inspiration mentioned by the fans and critics alike of the film is the strong influence from the Italian grand master himself Federico Fellini. The movie is very much in the same vein as La Dolce Vita and almost could be taken as a modern day version of Fellini's film but it contains enough material to tell its own story and be a separate and unique artwork by itself. Either way I love the route that Paolo Sorrentino takes by sticking to his roots as Sister Maria says (are important) and telling a story that is important to him in his own way.

The Great Beauty is very much a crisis film about a man coming to the realization of his mortality and the empty life he has lived that preceded it. While saying crisis (as in the mid-life kind, this time dealing with the twilight years) the film is never told through a panicked tone and is as carefree as the film's protagonist was before with his life in which he remains albeit with a different outlook that slowly transforms him. The plot is told ever so graceful and many of its meanderings correspond with the emptiness that the protagonist suffers from always in search of the Great Beauty that is not there instead filling the void with frivolous parties and an artificial lifestyle at the top of the social ladder.

That is about as much of a cut and dry synopsis as one can get from this film because the magic of it does not lie in a single large plot but instead multiple little stories scattered throughout. It is quasi slice of life in the form of a character chain all centering on the protagonist Jep. His crisis and observance of the world is his character's depth, it is those around him that enter and exit his life that make up the plot development. It is also pivotal to mention that the city of Rome plays one of the biggest characters of them all and Sorrentino films the city in such a fashion.

Speaking of the characters and particularly the protagonist played by Toni Servillo, anyone else get the vibe at least from his appearance that he could be mistaken for a Italian Woody Allen? He even carried a slight neurosis like Allen except in a more sophisticated manner. Servillo was brilliant by the way in a mostly subdued performance with at times a broken down facade revealing his true emotions.

I implore all with the opportunity to seek out The Great Beauty, a film deserving of all of the technical awards this year for a pure sensory experience. The music is unforgettable as is the breathtaking cinematography and it is just something you have to see to believe.

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