For Reel

The Great Beauty (2013)
November 23, 2015, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Paolo Sorrentino
3 Stars
The Great BeautyAs if to imply that his predecessor wasn’t gaudy enough, Paolo Sorrentino takes Federico Fellini as a starting point and ups the ante in The Great Beauty. While La Dolce Vita portrayed a modern chic lifestyle as one that was full of surface pleasures but ultimately artificial, Sorrentino’s portrait of Rome is more jaded in that it doesn’t portray modernity in a particularly enticing way to begin with. Sorrentino is more intoxicated by ugly, distorted images that beautiful ones–see the extended takes on the death mask of a 104-year-old Mother Teresa stand-in. Furthermore, at every turn he suggests a certain fraudulence in not only the opulent lifestyle, but a hypocrisy in those that aspire to comment on it. In The Great Beauty, artists are frauds (it is unclear whether the film’s celebrity journalist (Toni Servillo) is immune to such a categorization) and narcissists. The film works as a sort of artsploitation picture–many of its pleasures existing at a sexual, surface level, to be gawked at but nothing more–but it’s philosophy is, if not empty-headed, tediously derivative.