The Great Beauty Screen 23 articles

The Great Beauty


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  • Big themes don't equal an ambitious picture: although it looks and sounds like an epic, there is no definition in the detail — the film has been put together with hammer and tongs. Sorrentino goes after garishness and easy targets: the crassness of the local media, with its showgirls and lustful old men... The film achieves striking but obvious effects by contrasting high-color glitz with Caravaggesque lighting and gaunt faces.

  • The Great Beauty finds Sorrentino going so far into the mythologies of his nation that he loses all perspective, spitting out an incoherent pastiche of Fellini (La Dolce Vita in particular) with a dash of accidental, toothless Tomás Gutiérrez Alea (Memories of Underdevelopment) dropped in as counterpoint.

  • Revelations are light because maybe there are no revelations, or at least there aren't any that the hyper-articulate Jep can amply communicate or understand. This works against the film as a whole, as it's pristine emotional implacability makes it difficult – maybe even impossible – to engage with on any satisfying subtextual level.

  • For 90 minutes or so, The Great Beauty is a, well, beautifully mounted expression of the fantasy of Rome as a city of sex and decay that's always ripe for an indulgent Italian filmmaker's expressive probing lens... but [Sorrentino's] film is really just a huge turn-on that has the bad manners to go sour, succumbing to its own self-delusions of moral/political grandeur.

  • A lovely but rambling excursion through moneyed Rome, the film can’t have remotely the same impact as its predecessor, but it does offer a cornucopia of dazzling images—so many, frankly, that it becomes a bit exhausting, especially at nearly two and a half hours.

  • This is Sorrentino’s most blatant expression of fealty to Felliniyet, with religion and riches intermingled in some fine sketches (and some weak ones), and though the film does gorge too ruminatively on tracking shots down marbled hallways, Jep himself is a marvellous creation, one to rival Casanova himself.

  • There’s a poignant sense that, in its rushing forward, time has finally stranded the Eternal City ashore, though the film as a whole is moving almost in spite of itself. Sorrentino keeps refusing to dial back his depictions of decline-phase excess from near-cartoonish levels... Still, however off-the-mark some of the non-literary vignettes, there remains a stubborn integrity to The Great Beauty.

  • [Sorrentino] is a writer incomparably more than he is a filmmaker... because the way he constructs filmic space resembles the prose of those early 20th-century writers who sought to write in a pictorial or cinematic manner... Despite the cheap wisdom and misplaced tenderness he feels obliged to spread over The Great Beauty to ensure a measure of cult-audience palatability, Sorrentino delivers a striking, truly acute portrait of the eternal city and its inhabitants.

  • If The Great Beauty approaches any kind of coherent mission statement, it’s a fairly generic existential point about forcing oneself out of complacency by traveling to the successes of the past—not a surprising point for a film that steeps itself in evocations of Italian cinema history, but, considering the fun Sorrentino has with this backward-reaching maneuver, not one worth begrudging either.

  • At nearly two-and-a-half hours, the lack of progression should be wearing, but it never is. Like — who would have thought it? — Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers earlier this year, the film’s rhythm is built on repetition, samples of its own beauty and ugliness repeated like an anchoring bass line in a jazz improvisation.

  • ...Flaws are inherent in the concept - Flaubert's dream of writing "a book about nothing" is mentioned more than once, and of course this is a film about nothing - but most of the parts are either dazzling or funny (Ramona the stripper is the major dead spot, a very underwritten character) and the concept is majestic, a variation on Il Divo with style self-consciously applied to conceal a gaping hollowness.

  • Flashbacks to Jep’s “Rosebud” and a third-act attempt to titter toward transcendence via a Mother Teresa–like figure don’t quite hit their marks, yet Sorrentino’s portrait of an artist rising, phoenix-like, from the upper-crust ashes still feels like bold, first-class filmmaking. If he keeps producing works like this, the man may do the same for Italian cinema.

  • So rambunctious and densely inhabited it's a movie you visit, not merely watch, The Great Beauty is also one of the greatest films about modern social dissolution, an epic art-film subgenre that may well have begun with Fellini's classic more than a half-century ago, and never gets old.

  • The Great Beauty... sees Sorrentino ramping up his customary excess and taking it genuinely into the realms of the sublime. The film represents an outrageous, not to say impertinent, gamble: if you call a film The Great Beauty, you’d better be ready to deliver. But Sorrentino does, in spades: it’s a film not just of beauty but also of daring ugliness—which, as we know from Fellini (the inescapable guest of honor at this Trimalchio’s feast of a movie), are inseparable.

  • "Beauty" can be read as an update of "La Dolce Vita," but while it is definitely Fellini-esque, it's also a crystallization of Sorrentino's own distinctive style. This 43-year-old filmmaker is a major talent. Though he may not be the second coming of Fellini, his films all have a funny, refreshingly complex perspective, and his latest work is a perfect example of why he is the next big Italian thing.

  • With “The Great Beauty,” Mr. Sorrentino has not only returned to Italy, he has also taken on its past and how it weighs on the present and future... [Sorrentino] has created a wildly inventive and sometimes thrilling ode to sensibility and to some of its linguistic cousins, like sensation, sensitivity and sentiment.

  • Never have cynicism and disillusion seemed more intoxicating than in “The Great Beauty,” which is such an overwhelming visual and auditory experience that its elements of cautionary moral fable threaten to get lost amid the gorgeousness. Not that I’m complaining. “The Great Beauty” is an ironic and passionate near-masterwork, like a nine-course dessert that makes you entirely forget the meal.

  • Sorrentino communes with Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita, but his ambition trumps Fellini's sense of cultural and moral demise — if only because Sorrentino has cultivated more outrageous symbols of ruin. I adore this movie. I saw it first back in May, and wrote about it in detail, and it has stayed with me so vividly all these months, the way a tattoo would. But Sorrentino isn't satisfied with a stamp on your arm. He leaves you covered in ink.

  • Federico Fellini is an obvious touch point here: Sorrentino nods to both the corrosive hedonism of La Dolce Vita and the emotional paralysis of 8½, but his sensuous images outdo even the master’s. The Great Beauty is both a bacchanal and a dirge... The Great Beauty is a subtly daring cinematic high-wire act — an entire film built around one character’s unrealized, unspecified yearning. And it might just be the most unforgettable film of the year.

  • In one early voiceover, [Jep] tells us that the aim of his life so far has been not merely to be the life of every party, but to be so central to Rome's dissolute nightlife that he can, by word or deed, single-handedly ruin any party he attends. This destructive instinct presages the thematic arc of the film... It seems a paradox, but the resultant act of witnessing the film permits is as meaning-laden an existential adventure as I've had the pleasure to experience in a very long time.

  • Upon watching La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty, 2013) by Paolo Sorrentino, the first two surfacing feelings are: what a stunning piece of work, and what a desperate country Italy has become. The film is feast for the senses, a synaesthetic experience of visual images, words, and music that cannot shade, but rather highlights, the desolation of the world represented.

  • Sumptuously sensual, crammed with gusto, vitality, spectacle, and invention, The Great Beauty(2013) is also a cautionary tale about the heedless pursuit of pleasure. Director Paolo Sorrentino pulls out all the stops visually, layering one stunning, eye-opening image onto another. But for all this, the film is also, paradoxically, austere and rigorous... The Great Beauty is [Sorrentino's] best film so far, a culmination of his inquiries into the clash between man as social animal and introvert.

  • The Great Beauty is a picaresque tableau of Italy and its attempt to cling on to twilight glamour. [It's] a very attractive film with exquisite visuals and set pieces.

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