Movie Review: The Great Beauty

la grande belleza

The Great Beauty (originally La Grande Belleza) is an italian movie directed by Paolo Sorrentino. It is a mixture of the most different emotions,  beautiful cinematography, complex characters and diverging and converging stories.  The movie focuses on Jep, an italian novelist who wrote one good book when he was young and became a permanent fixture in the city’s artistic and social circles, deciding to party his nights–and eventually years– away instead of focusing on writing more novels. That’s how he lives his life until he turns sixty-five, when a visitor from the past comes with shocking news that turn his entire life around.

Jep comes to realize the frivolity which he has surrounded himself with doesn’t satisfy him any longer, but is faced with the more complicated matter of figuring out what does satisfy him. In the process, he comes to discover the power of grief, friendship and love, the limits of art, and also its liberating forces, and finally the source of his future inspiration, which comes from the most unexpected place.

The movie’s dialogue is witty, layered with implied meaning, and nothing is ever spoon-fed to the audience. A very european trait, but one that suits me because I am constantly analyzing what this line or shot or sequence of scenes might mean. If you do this too, you’ll find this movie engaging and satisfying. The cinematography is beautiful. It’s Rome! Of course it’s going to be beautiful no matter what. The colors and places and art blend together like a dream.

There are moments of humor, and then there are moments of humor mixed with melancholy, and then there’s pure melancholy. The undertone of the movie, however, is one of hope, despite the tinges of nostalgia that run throughout it. This was, perhaps, what I most liked about it. It’s not a depressing movie, despite some of the depressing story lines. It’s a movie that celebrates life, and all the absurdities and beauty that compose it.

Una vera delizia! 

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