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Universal acclaim - based on 29 Critics What's this?

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7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 114 Ratings

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  • Summary: Jep Gambardella has seduced his way through the lavish nightlife of Rome for decades, but after his 65th birthday and a shock from the past, Jep looks past the nightclubs and parties to find a timeless landscape of absurd, exquisite beauty.
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. Reviewed by: Robbie Collin
    May 26, 2013
    100
    A shimmering coup de cinema to make your heart burst, your mind swim and your soul roar.
  2. Reviewed by: Michael Atkinson
    Nov 12, 2013
    100
    There's little sense in trying to resist the film's relentless boogie-woogie party vibe, its tumultuous visual banquet, its unpredictable sense of switchblade satire, its fools' parade of modern grotesques, or its river of startling melancholy, turning from a wary trickle to a flash flood by film's end. Sorrentino's vision is the size of Rome itself, and his confidence is dazzling.
  3. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Dec 5, 2013
    100
    If you know Federico Fellini's "La Dolce Vita," you'll be unable to watch The Great Beauty without thinking about it. This gorgeous Italian movie, like its predecessor, balances pungent satire and a more melancholy mood in portraying the dissolute world of the upper crust in contemporary Rome.
  4. Reviewed by: Geoff Pevere
    Jan 31, 2014
    88
    An utterly ravishing portrait of listless luxuriance, a fantasy of decadent wealth and beauty.
  5. Reviewed by: Barbara VanDenburgh
    Dec 13, 2013
    80
    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.
  6. Reviewed by: Kevin Harley
    Oct 22, 2013
    80
    Splashes of overstatement aside, the ambition intoxicates.
  7. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Nov 22, 2013
    42
    The melancholy in this film is just as trumped up as the frenzy.

See all 29 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 26
  2. Negative: 5 out of 26
  1. Feb 19, 2014
    10
    A gorgeous non-linear poem of a movie. Obviously an update of La Dolce Vita, showing how much further into decadence and shallowness the upperA 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
  2. Jan 3, 2014
    10
    Vivacious, sexual, vibrant, and enlightening. This is the best film I have seen in years. It is a mixture of Fellini, Antonioni, and MichelVivacious, 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. Expand
  3. Dec 21, 2013
    10
    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 ofThis 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 beauty.beauty 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
  4. Jan 6, 2014
    9
    Yes this film is flawed in some ways (the script could be better, the sentimental bursts could be less anticipated, less Tornatore-sque, theYes 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
  5. Feb 3, 2014
    8
    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 toAfter 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.
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  6. Feb 13, 2014
    6
    “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“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.
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  7. Mar 17, 2014
    0
    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.. EvenI 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. Expand

See all 26 User Reviews

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