The Great Beauty

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.

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