After the road trip adventures of This Must be the Place, Paolo Sorrentino returns refreshed to Rome with The Great Beauty, a dazzling mix of Fellini and Greenaway (whose own The Belly of an Architect was also set in the Eternal City) that nonetheless remains unmistakeably the work of its director, and cements his place amongst leading European filmmakers.
Sorrentino’s regular leading actor Toni Servillo is excellent as always playing journalist Jep Gambardella, who came to fame decades before as author of a novel which he has yet to follow up. Apparently content to rule Rome’s social scene, Jep’s birthday brings a new reflectiveness, magnified by an encounter with the widower of his first love which inspires him to perhaps finally fulfil the promise of his youth. Beautifully made, and filled with cinematic references, it’s one of the year’s finest. (Notes by Kevin Coyne.)
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