THE GREAT BEAUTY directed by Paolo Sorrentino,.
THE GREAT BEAUTY directed by Paolo Sorrentino, written by Sorrentino and Umberto Contarello, with Toni Servillo and Carlo Verdone. 142 minutes. Subtitled. A Mongrel release. Opens Friday (January 31). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNNNN
Sure, this gorgeous, sweeping indictment of contemporary Roman society under Berlusconi is self-indulgent – and its perspective is decidedly male – but Paolo Sorrentino is the kind of director you want to indulge.
Toni Servillo stars as 60-something journalist Jep, who wrote a bestselling novel when he was in his 20s but hasn’t written a thing that matters since. Instead, he’s immersed himself in all things shallow: the party circuit, pseudo-intellectual confabs with the rich and famous, meaningless sex. Shades of La Dolce Vita.
Jep reflects on his empty life in a series of spectacular vignettes that come tumbling out of cinematographer Luca Bigazzi and Sorrentino’s vivid imagination: over-the-top bashes, an artist performing beside Roman ruins, a money-grubbing doctor injecting botox in public and a ton more.
Garish party sequences collide with serene images of Rome’s ancient art beautiful, inspirational music meets club bangers.
Just let the damn thing wash over you.