TIFF 2013: The Great Beauty – Capsule Review

Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Writers: Paolo Sorrentino, Umberto Contarello
Starring: Toni Servillo, Carlo Verdone, Sabrina Ferilli
Runtime: 142 min
Rating: 14A

Toni Servillo stars as Jep Gambardella, a journalist made famous by a novel he wrote many years in the past. Although an old work, Jep still feeds off the fame the novel provided, and has become well acquainted with Rome’s posh upper class. Although he has no need for money and spends his days in parties and social gatherings, Gambardella has clearly lost his sense of purpose. He roams through the city questioning his own void existence in the hope of finding that great beauty that used to inspire him so. Paolo Sorrentino directs a delightful tale of disillusion in a most comedic and excessive way. Vibrant colours, diverse characters, and frenzied sequences all give the movie a warm feeling despite its sombre premise. Reminiscent of Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2 , the film combines Gambardella’s past and present and makes use of the character’s misery in order to deliver a cynical yet terribly amusing view not only of old age, but of the loss of will. With a witty script, energetic music, and dynamic cinematography, The Great Beauty rewards the viewer in all aspects, and it provides a great window into one’s own fears and probable realities. The film will have you realizing that you are not too different from Jep Gambardella, and that his thought process is strangely familiar to your own. However, the film also shows that anything can be laughed at, and that not even one’s own misery should get in the way of enjoying what is left of life.

Overall rating: 4.6/5

Photo Credit: Toronto International Film Festival