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Generally favorable reviews- based on 105 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 90 out of 105
  2. Negative: 9 out of 105

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  1. Dec 21, 2013
    This is not a film of Fellini. perhaps only the Italians can understand it. is closer to a malick's film. nature is replaced by the beauty of the city and the great wakes up at dawn, in the light of the sun. and the beauty is not in the decadence of fashion but in the garden with the children in the trials of a choir, in memory of a love. the beauty that is also salvation is at hand for all. this is the message, but you have to know how to get out of the cynical bunch and take it. Expand
  2. Dec 21, 2013
    There is plenty of beauty in this movie, no doubt. I think the director of this movie was trying to make a Fellini-like film, in which he (to some extent) succeeded. The cinematography is brilliant there, but in my opinion, a good movie needs not only a form, no matter how outstanding it is, but some substance as well. And there is none of it, just a stream of consciousness, which is quite popular among professional critics. But I am not a critic, I am just a guy who likes good movies, and this is not one of them. Expand
  3. Lyn
    Mar 28, 2014
    Not sure I would have understood a movie like this at age 25 ... but though I've not reached the lead character's age (65), his mix of introspection and escapism really struck a chord. His day-to-day life is populated by serious and frivolous people doing frivolous and serious things, but in the pauses between their sometimes weird events, he's thinking deeply about the decisions of his life and what it all means. It helps that the lead actor has a face you can get lost in -- not handsome, but riveting. And visually overall, it's brilliantly inventive without being too "arty." Have to say, for those who might be scared off by all the Fellini references: this is much more coherent than Fellini -- at least it was to me. Expand
  4. Feb 10, 2014
    This Italian nomination for Best Foreign Film follows a man who's just turned 65. He wrote one successful novel years ago and still spends his days moving in society's circles: dancing at wild parties, having useless conversations, viewing performance art and questioning it all. If you're familiar with Fellini you'll see his touches all over: sumptuous images of Roman life and locations, freaky characters and incongruous imagery all combined in glimpses, not in linear narrative. On the other hand, the film is missing the master's magic. If you're into art films, this might appeal. I found it beautiful to behold, but oh so tedious, labored and indulgent. (At Criterion Cinemas only.) Expand
  5. Nov 15, 2013
    This extremely beautiful film, give me a weird message, we're million of people in a world where the beauty is out of our reach and it's a thing That the generations goes on, but it's clear, the beauty does not exist and Is not the real message, the real is the reason for we are here, surrounded by people who change our lives, explores the soul, life, death and life in Rome, the life of a millionaire to be exact. As Fellini, Sorrentino gives us a masterpiece, infused with beauty, which is undoubtedly one of the best movies of this year. Expand
  6. Nov 29, 2013
    A deeply affecting film of life lived on the surface. This story could only reach fulfillment in cinematic form. A must-see film one which makes us realize why we love movies.
  7. Jan 3, 2014
    Vivacious, sexual, vibrant, and enlightening. This is the best film I have seen in years. It is a mixture of Fellini, Antonioni, and Michel Gondry. A visual masterpiece and a directorial triumph. Even better than Inside Llewyn Davis this year.
  8. Jan 28, 2014
    This is not a movie for young people because they can't understand the main character approach and point of view. Is a pure sample of mannerism and the way to tell who is inspiring you as author. Grotesque + Cynicism + Melancholy = great formula for advanced spectators. Yes, is slow, but this is the only one way you can take a breath and watch the beautiful eternal city and your life which is going to the end. Great moment of the intellectual cinema. Expand
  9. Feb 19, 2014
    A gorgeous non-linear poem of a movie. Obviously an update of La Dolce Vita, showing how much further into decadence and shallowness the upper classes of Italy (and the globalized world?) have descended in the last fifty years or so. But also a film about the possibility of transcendence of the whole farce of the emptiness of the lives of the rich. The final tracking shot of the gorgeous Tiber River and its bridges, accompanied by profoundly beautiful, soulful music epitomizes the capacity of the human mind to move to a very different plane from that on which the film's hero wastes most, but not all, of his time on earth. Expand
  10. Mar 5, 2014
    I'm Italian and I keep wondering how this film can get an Oscar. The social portrait that I saw in the first 30 min. it do not represent the Italian way of life: I feel quite disturbed from the decadence of almost all characters. I do not even understand all dialogues since part of them are spoken in dialect. I couldn't bear more than 30 minutes of the film because it seem more the auto absolution of the class that caused the greatest part of troubles in our country. Expand
  11. Feb 17, 2014
    After his tepid foray into America (THIS MUST BE THE PLACE, 2011), Paolo Sorrentino returns to Rome, confects his latest film, LA GRANDE BELLEZZA, a rambling fresco about the menagerie of events around Jep Gambardella (Servillo), a one-time writer and a successful journalist. Jep is an urbane hipster habituates in nightlife, a spouseless socialite, both an adroit party thrower and avid participant, but what has changed since his 65-year-old birthday? He begins to meditate on the existential meaning of his life, through his eyes, we are invited to probe the unseen vista of the middle-class’ decadence in the urban Roman society, it is a ritual, sentimental prose, plus an ode to the foregone glory.

    As a man with certain social status, Jep descends into nostalgic about the past, especially when he learns the death of his first lover, he recollects his memory of her, and meets a middle-aged stripper Ramona (Ferilli), who is an unwonted idealist with an enigmatic secret (not her intimacy with Botox obviously). They form a platonic relationship, romanticizes the ideal of love instead of making love. There are other facet of Jep’s life which concerns his friends, his pygmy boss Dadina (Vignola), an affluent widow Viola (Villoresi) with her radical son Andrea (Marinelli), the condescending Stefania (Ranzi), the lascivious Lello Cava (Buccirosso) with his wife Trumeau (Forte) and Romano (Verdone), an ill-fated writer. They all have their episodic presence in Jep’s life, their stories are more or less expanded but never elaborated.

    The portmanteau structure meanders over 2 hours, like a night cruise, sometimes we admire, sometimes we laugh, sometimes we indulge, not that the narrative matters, as if Sorrentino has a non-stop palliative generator to peddle viewers its pills to be enchanted with petrifying exquisiteness (from the body-swirling parties, then a giraffe disappears in a jiffy to the magical flamingos summoned by the wizened Saint), idiosyncratic modern art (Talia Concept, a kid’s performance art and Ron Sweet’s self-portrait exhibition, or maybe the Botox clinic, looks like a wacky play), and not to mention the groovy shindigs, all arrayed in painterly compositions, but Jep is not among all of this, he is an onlooker, a parvenu with patronizing stance to reflect the recognition we are hankering for, sophisticated, superior yet still hasn’t found what he is looking for. Servillo (only 55 but always passes for older men) exemplifies the role without detectable effort, his creased physiognomy is telling enough to indicate what’s in his vulpine mind.

    It is easy to find allusions to the vintage national auteurs like Fellini, Visconti with Sorrentino’s darkly flamboyant touch, but the film seems to no more a panegyric to the ancient capital than a contemplative eulogy which fixates on the internal struggle of aging, not only our lives are ephemeral, so is the aggregate city itself, and this is what beckons the core of the Academy voters, I can safely put my ante on a BEST FOREIGN PICTURE win in the upcoming Oscar ceremony, a majestic 15-year comeback to the kudos after LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL (1998, 8/10).
  12. Mar 6, 2014
    This is in every way reminiscent of Fellini--the camera is always finding beauty in nature, in the city, in people, even in the grotesque. And its themes are equally familiar: the sweet life (la dolce vita) is also often bitter (la vita amara), and the transitory never satisfies but it is all we have. The film is beautiful and in its implications moving
  13. Mar 17, 2014
    I have only walked out on a movie twice. This was the second time. Pretentious, obnoxious, and boring. p.s., It had nothing to say.. Even Rome didn’t look as beautiful as it really is.
  14. Jul 9, 2014
    The movie teaches us two important life lessons and then demonstrates that the viewer who watched this film to the end failed to grasp them. At one point the main hero states that by the age of 75 he has learned not to waste time on something he doesn't like. I've made this mistake by watching this whole boring movie. And the second lesson is that hard work and sacrifice does not necessarily lead to anything meaningful in the end. Such is demonstrated by the unsatisfying movie culmination of pure gibberish, contrary to what we hoped for, considering it got an Oscar. The reason that this review gives this movie 2, not 1 or 0 is that the picture has a number of pleasing scenes (although some gross ones as well) and that the greatest beauty is indeed revealed in the end, although trivial, but nevertheless true. The greatest beauty is **** Expand
  15. Feb 3, 2014
    After portraying Sean Penn in a weirder role in the movie 'This Must be the Place', the director is back with this. This time he chose to portray again an another old man who used to be a novelist. The story commences on his 65th birthday party. With an awesome music and dance at the beginning, it kicks starts to tell the protagonist's rest of the story.

    Jep is a novelist who gave up
    writings a long ago. On his 65th birthday, he decides to enjoy the rest of his last stage of the life. Roaming around the city of ruined Rome, he discovers similar to his earlier phase of life in people who encounters on the streets. Especially the first girl he admired the most when he was in the 20s. The screen shares between past and present in the presentation. Like a man's in search of a great beauty at the age of dusk.

    An 2014 OSCAR submission from Italy and nominated for short list as well. Will this justify to be nominated? Well, I think yes. Some of the scenes are not quite relevant to the story, just like dragging in from out of the topic. At a time it was artistic and eye catching. Throughout, the music is what well backed the irrelevant material story. Especially the opening and funeral ones were incredible.

    Many scenes had not explained its purpose. Sometime you make scratch your head about not getting the meaning. One of those was the conference of world spiritual leaders takes place. Exactly, it is not about what it's trying to tell us, but the capacity for understanding on stuffs will be tested. This movie can't be enjoyed by everyone, but certain people will find hidden gem and messages or an art form of it in its depth.

    I earlier mentioned it is a irrelevant story, it might be a little harsh to say that because protagonist in the movie itself confused about his remaining life. So he begins to see in people his life reflection and sometime he won't understand others character behaviour. On many occasions he asks them about it, but the answers won't convince him till he himself witness the truth. We had seen in other movies where the protagonist goes to India for self discovery, and that is what here this man does in own city.
  16. Feb 13, 2014
    “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” This remains to be one of my favourite idioms of all time. The beauty of art is very rarely understood unanimously or collectively, instead it becomes an expression of human beings that flourishes through argument, rebuttals and questions. Fortunately, the same can be said with the film in review. One of the many beauties of The Great Beauty remains to be it’s amazing ability to allow the perceptions of many to decide the beauty and horror that is contained in it’s small, avant-garde shell.

    More often than not, the film is a collection of images, situations and nuances where it’s meaning is just as dumbfounding or interpretative as any abstract portrait or painting. From scenes involving a magician disappearing a giraffe where the payoff is never explained, an opera choir singing whilst an Asian tourist falls face-first, dead, or the image of a capsized boat in the water off the coast of Rome, there are more than just a few instances where the film itself is a colourful and fantastical ode to the late great Federico Fellini. Rather than just being a Fellini wannabe film, writer/director Paolo Sorrentino gives us a glimpse into the many questionable lifestyle formulas within the epicentre of Italy’s posh social elites, the city of Rome.

    The film is driven by way of high-class professional socialite Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), a rousing misogynist, or what he prefers to be called, a misanthrope, whose life since the age of twenty-six has surrounded the snobby upper-class Italian elite and their artistic appetites. Jep is a writer who is still riding the waves of success from his first and only book, L’Apparato Umano (The Human Apparatus), and whose presence is still heavily felt in Rome. Like so many great writers, Jep is completely aware of his potential to impact the lives of others, yet rather than embrace his talent, he prefers to use his status as a dignified God-like scribe for the sake of…nothing really. As he struts his fine-tailored suit throughout the underbelly of Rome’s busy nightlife and sleeps while Rome’s financially struggling lower and middle class work, Jep enjoy his life drinking, smoking, sleeping, eating, socializing, and complaining about the trivial matters that plague the Italian upper-class. As Jep narrates, “It’s all settled beneath the chitter chatter and the noise, silence and sentiment, emotion and fear. The haggard, inconstant flashes of beauty. And then the wretched squalor and miserable humanity. All buried under the cover of the embarrassment of being in the world”. Exactly.

    Contrary to it’s marketing and promotional material, the film itself is beautifully shot, but far from following any sort of linear storyline. Jumping in and out of flash-backs of Jep’s youth, the film is a vessel to understanding Italy’s obsession with keepin up appearances, and actually has less to do with Jep’s life as a whole. The film is loaded with scenes involving examples of ridiculous high art practices; from wall-slamming nude women, knife-throwing gypsy men, and volatile little girls throwing paint cans onto a blank canvas. The Great Beauty is a film whose commentary on the ridiculousness of Rome’s posh few are questioned and palpable, not because of it’s unbelievability, but more-so for it’s deep-rootedness in truth and reality. I have personally never been to Rome, or Italy for that matter, but much like the film itself, Sorrentino allows audience members to envision Rome in the same way he uses it; as a portable backdrop for the countless fashion photo shoots, bizarre street art performers and a stage for the operatic.

    Aside from the people, there is a richness underneath The Great Beauty, which is its commentary on beauty itself. Dabbing into the world of plastic surgery, clubbing, and high-art, Sorrentino’s lens is a tell-all opening to the very haggard and inconstant flashes of beauty that become borderline repulsive and monstrous. Eventually, everyone surrounding Jep becomes more and more inhuman and almost caricature like, far from Jep’s initial desires. It is not until one of Jep’s previous lovers dies where Jep is, pulled back into the world where everyone, including himself, is in search for the great beauty of life.

    Although it’s title may be The Great Beauty, the film itself becomes a de-glamourization and far-fetched reality of the abusive and overindulgent spectacle of a frivolous and uncaring class of socialites. The Great Beauty is undoubtedly an intricate and wholly cinematic apparatus, but, as Jep says, it is also just a film that highlights Italy’s “blah, blah, blah…” in high manner and fashion.
  17. Jan 16, 2014
    Comparison with La dolce vita is obvious and rightfully so. Yet the decadence of the 60's elite was far more elegant, in a way, than our own age's, and this is shown throughout through an old man with radically cynical thoughts who's forcing himself to appear, to be in the spotlight. And among child prodigy painters, madmen, centenarian nuns, dreaming strippers and faux Communists it all unravels in the end when it is clearly shown that what truly matters is lost forever, and we had the chance to seize it, and maybe we did, but we wish we'd done it better. But the beauty of it resides right in the mystery of "what would have happened if" and the bittersweetness of never being able to find out. Collapse
  18. Jan 6, 2014
    Yes this film is flawed in some ways (the script could be better, the sentimental bursts could be less anticipated, less Tornatore-sque, the main character could be more earth-bound etc) but the movie would not be the same then, would it? That's the beauty of the "cinema de createur": the spectator's brain is set in motion and it is compelled to draw conclusions, to admire or to dislike, to feel, to understand and sympathise with the character's (or the director's) flaws. This movie may not be a masterpiece but it is as close as it gets, and it is worth every minute of watching (multiple times included). Expand
  19. Jan 1, 2014
    For me, this film goes to the absolute limits of what can be achieved in a film. Each shot, each scene is a thing of great beauty. The plot is secondary. It was a delight to watch. I might admit a bias: I am an Italophile. And this film has all things Italian: style, of course, but more than that it's the attitude that no matter how they look, they're confident in themselves. There were lots of ironic moments in the film as well: almost as if it were the Italians mocking themselves. Film centers around a main character, and Toni Sevillo is perfect. His character is memorable: he stands out like a character in a great novel. All the other actors, almost stock characters are perfect too. The film's got some ideas too: ideas about art, and life, and transcendence, but somehow one doesn't pay much attention to these too, given all this beauty. Expand
  20. Dec 4, 2013
    THE GREAT BEAUTY is not as profound as it would like to be and at times it feels like a Fellini rehash, but ultimately director Sorrentino hits dead on the malaise and dissolution of the contemporary upper classes. The first 25 minutes are so perfect--beautiful, ugly, dull, and great fun--you wish the next 2 hours could hit these heights. That's a high mark and THE GREAT BEAUTY comes very close.
  21. Sep 20, 2014
    The only "great beauty" in this film was the view of Rome, in a point of view that also the citizens of Rome haven't. The film trying to copy Fellini's style, and a lot of people like this only for the idea. It's not that way for choice a vote. The Oscar? I'm Italian and i think is like a political-choice.
  22. Apr 9, 2014
    This is the real Euro film!! Great characters and story with a lot off glamour.Tony Servillo is one of the greatest actors in Europe, he was also great in Gomorra.
  23. Oct 13, 2014
    We are invited to accompany a writer throughout his journey across Rome in a world of fantasy and reality.
    Maybe we are exploring a writer's mind which is filled with a wide range of colors and characters. It is indeed an exhilarating experience we can hardly forget.
  24. Nov 20, 2014
    This must be one of these 'Art' movies. If you are not a specific fan of this kind of picture, better avoid The Great Beauty. Nothing of substance, only pretty shots here and there and boring, nonsensical dialog, plot and characters.

Universal acclaim - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. Reviewed by: Geoff Pevere
    Jan 31, 2014
    An utterly ravishing portrait of listless luxuriance, a fantasy of decadent wealth and beauty.
  2. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Jan 30, 2014
    The pointlessness of Jep's journey is Sorrentino's point, richly made.
  3. Reviewed by: Barbara VanDenburgh
    Dec 13, 2013
    It’s a Fellini-esque carnival of humanity on display, a more debauched phantasmagoria reminiscent of “La Dolce Vita.” But “La Dolce Vita” created the paparazzi; The Great Beauty takes place in a world where the paparazzi have existed for decades.