Having won the Golden Globe award for Best Foreign Language Feature, “The Great Beauty” or “La Grande Bellezza” is the only foreign film anyone is talking about. Whether it proves to be the best has yet to be seen, but marking off the first foreign film I have seen out of the bunch, it does set the bar high, with amazing visuals and memorable performances, the film is rich and deep and filled with breathtaking sequences. From director Paolo Sorrentino, who made his English debut recently with “This Must Be The Place” starring Sean Penn and starring Toni Servillo (“Il Divo”) as the lead character, Jep Gambardella, “The Great Beauty” follows its lead after his 65th birthday party, as he entertains his group of friends on several occasions, finds himself in a relationship with a much younger woman who makes a living as a stripper, and leaves his successful career as a writer to interview and produce columns. Jep reminisces of a lost love from when he was a young man, as her husband informs Jep that she has passed and had always loved him. Servillo plays this role wonderfully, bringing a vitality to the aged man and a sophistication needed to present the lyrical delivery of many of his criticisms. Were this to win, it would be from this strong leading performance as well as the striking visuals, with several unforgettable images, such as the giraffe in the courtyard at night, and the flashlight lit art gallery tour, and the screaming little girl painter, and the list goes on. Although often over my head, the film grabs hold enough to fill in the voids left by its dense material and really does impress on every level. It’s biggest competition could be “The Hunt”, since it stars a recognizable Madz Mikkelsen and was the most readily available, having hit home video already. Also, with the strong emotion of “The Broken Circle Breakdown”, this too could unseat “The Great Beauty” from its Golden Globe win. This is Italy’s 28th nomination and if this film were to win, it would mark an eleventh win for the country in this category, with the last winner being 1998’s “Life Is Beautiful”.
// Produced by Nicola Giuliano, Francesca Cima, and Fabio Conversi //
// Directed by Paolo Sorrentino //
// Dated Viewed: Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 // Laemmle’s Music Hall 3 // 35 films – 39 days //