“The Great Beauty” is a film about Jep Gabardella. Jep is a 65-year-old charming and intelligent man, with a sharp sense of humor. He likes to enjoy life to its fullest. Author of a single book he had written at a young age, Jep, who arrived in Rome at the age of 26, managed to become a successful journalist, with many acquaintances in the circles of the upper middle class. In general, he rised to be one of the most prominent bon viveurs of Rome and an influential figure for many people.
His life consists of wild parties until the early morning hours, many women and lonely walks through the streets of Rome when the city wakes up and he goes to sleep. He loves Arts and the people involved in them. Jepp has a very refined taste. However, he is also a man who has deeper thoughts and tries to find answers to issues that concern him.
Paolo Sorrentino manages to receive a flawless performance by Tony Servillo. Through this performance, he is able to show the beauty of the Eternal City. The protagonist is wandering through the city and we admire its beauty. Even when he is at home, we admire the view from a beautiful penthouse right across from the Colosseum. In addition to highlighting the beauty of the urban landscape, Sorrentino brilliantly satirizes all those who seem to enjoy Art without having any idea about it. He also mocks all those who took advantage of a political ideology to rise. Finally, he is sarcastic with the Church itself for its prejudices.
“High art” is the main leitmotif of the movie. That perfect beauty the protagonist is constantly looking for. Without a sophisticated and academic way, Sorrentino penetrates the depths of Art to enchant us with the beauty hidden in the statues, the paintings, the songs.
Jep is cynical and he demonstrates this cynicism throughout the film. He is not afraid to express his opinion, no matter how harsh it might be. However, Jep also has a more sensitive, more human side. It is not often revealed to us, but it regularly makes its appearance during the film. As he realizes, life is a journey, where death is on the other side. And Jep experiences death constantly.
To begin with, he learns that his great love has died. Her husband reveals to him that she has always loved Jep. Later, the son of a good friend of his dies. We assume that he liked him, because he cried during his funeral. However, he had previously mentioned that he never cries at funerals, as he does not want to take the glory from the family. Finally, the daughter of one of his friends dies. He started liking that girl, even beginning to fall in love with her.
Death, as leitmotif, also appears figuratively during the film. When his best friend decides to leave Rome, the protagonist himself begins to think whether his circle in Rome has closed as well. His breakup with his great love is one other sort of death. Although not featured in the film, it seems to have influenced his lifestyle thereafter. Finally, the movie questions the matter of real faith. This faith is not connected with the Church. It is more related to a man’s power to love others and not place material pleasures in a higher position than spiritual enlightenment.
Anyone who has seen Paolo Sorrentino’s film will start comparing it with Federico Fellini’s “Dolce Vita” (1960). In Fellini’s film, journalist Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni) is a successful journalist who writes about movie stars, religious issues and more. He lives in 7 days and nights the “sweet life” of Rome. We could see in Jep Gabardella, an older Marcello Rubini who is still active in a life full of parties, pleasure and women. Sorrentino pays a tribute to the great Fellini but also to the Italian cinema that praised Rome and the Italian spirit.
In conclusion, we believe that “The Great Beauty” is a film that glorifies the beauty which is hidden out there. It also highlights the emptiness of people who only indulge in material pleasures. Because the hardest thing in life, is to recognize and admire the Beautiful by living in the madness of a big city’s life.
Our rating: 8.5 / 10 stars