Wednesday, 8 January 2014
DVD review: The Great Beauty
In The Great Beauty’s sublimely grand overture, a smiling tourist snaps the Roman skyline then suddenly falls, as if overwhelmed by the splendour of the city before him. A similar awe accompanies a first viewing of director Paolo Sorrentino’s sixth feature, brimming as it is with luxuriant detail and technical bravado. These assets serve a picaresque narrative that delves into Rome in all its contrasts: the young and the ancient, the glamorous and the vulgar, the pious and the profane.
At its centre is Jep Gambardella: a sad-eyed, sharp-witted man-about-town, living la dolce vita among the intelligentsia and glitterati of Rome’s hollow high society. Charmingly played by Sorrentino regular Toni Servillo, Jep walks a tightrope between elation and ennui, the opulent pleasures of each night before giving way to the self-doubts and uncertainties of every morning after. Encounters with saints, sinners and a vanishing giraffe ensue, and the cumulative effect is dazzling.