film reviews

La grande bellezza

A party-goer strolls through Rome in the middle of the night.

La grande bellezza

As a writer known for one book he wrote several decades ago, Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo) makes a living writing art reviews for a cultural magazine. He drags his cynicism and misanthropy around with him through the deserted streets of Rome at night, returning home in the small hours after sumptuously decadent parties given by a crowd of rich people, who serially try to outdo one another by upping the finery each time. Appreciated for his charm and quick wit, he lives for the parties but can't stand the life in between, haunted as he is by memories of his first love, who he finds out has disappeared...

In the wake of the remarkable Il divo and This Must Be the Place, Paolo Sorrentino offers a bitter portrait of Rome's damned society of artists and celebrities, crushed by the beauty and history of the city and bogged down by boredom and melancholy. All this is seen through the eyes of a complex bon vivant perched on the edge of his empty life, trying not to fall in, as he hangs onto his old dreams. A guided tour of the former capital of the world and its secret palaces, with a detour through the twists and turns of a mind that masters irony and sarcasm without ever losing any of its arrogance.

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