Friday 29 November 2013

The Great Beauty [2013]

Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty is an ambitious, delirious and gorgeously photographed exploration of mid-life crisis, with the glitz, glamour and razzle-dazzle of Rome at the backdrop. It covered two things with utmost ease – on one hand it was a scathing critique of the decadence of Roman upper-class, socialites and glitterati, with all its grotesque excesses, vacuous hedonism, spiritual bankruptcy, vapid celebrity-hood, rabid hypocrisies and all-night reveries that are sure to draw parallels with La Dolce Vita, 8 ½ and La Notte; on the other it provided a melancholic and deeply personal peek into the loneliness, memories of lost love and disappeared youth, and existential crisis of a middle-aged journalist who is going through the motions in life, reminiscent of Bellow’s Herzog. The film began with exquisite vignettes of the city, and then, in a sharp turn, moved to its fabulous and sinful night-life where our protagonist Jep (Tony Servillo) makes a superb entrance. Over the course of its 2 ½ hour length, Jep is shown slipping in and out of his public veneer, reminiscing about his first love, being coaxed to write a much-delayed sophomore novel – his first, written many years back, had earned him significant fame and had sealed his entrance into the elite upper echelons, his burning self-deprecation, his vitriolic cynicism towards organized religion, mediocrity, fakery and shallowness, and his friendship with his perceptive editor and a bumbling director. As a minor flip, the tone became tad too sentimental and mellow by the end, thus overwriting the dark, rancid humour till then. Servillo gave a tour de force performance with his effortless evocation of a gamut of emotions just through facial expressions.

p.s. Watched this as part of 2013 Kolkata International Film Festival (KFF)

Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Genre: Drama/Psychological Dama/Social Satire/Black Comedy
Language: Italian
Country: Italy

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