Film: La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty)

Occasionally you watch a film that you know will stay with you for a long time afterwards. Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty is an indulgent portrayal of the highlife and hedonism in Rome and an existentialist exploration of what life means beyond materialism and excess.

The luxuriously drawn-out scenes show an appreciation for the small and beautiful moments that could easily go unnoticed. Described as 'couture cinema', the stunning cinematography incorporates a brilliant soundtrack, which includes Arvo Pärt's My Heart's in the Highlands, John Tavener's The Lamb and re-mixes of familiar European club tracks. It is a film to be appreciated as l'art pour l'art (art for art's sake).

"It is all settled beneath the chattering and the noise. Silence and sentiment. Emotion and fear. The haggard, inconsistent splashes of beauty. And the wretched squalor and miserable humanity." – Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), The Great Beauty

The point Sorrentino is making with his humorous portrayal of an arts journalist who has been living off the success of one novel for decades is a simple one: we can fill our lives with people and parties and power, and – things – but we can't ignore what is true beneath the surface. The whole plot revolves slowly and beautifully around the protagonist's memory of feeling first love in his 18th summer, the flashback to which contains an innocence and softness highly contrasted to the party scenes.

But it's not a sentimental film. It is self aware, self-deprecating and funny. It is numbness against bright colour contrasted sharply to an appreciation of those beautiful incidentals in life that only reveal themselves quietly.

It is also an excuse to stare at stunning interiors and architecture, gorgeous clothes, glamourous parties and good looking people. This film is breathtakingly beautiful and I can't recommend it enough.


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