The Great Beauty Image

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

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 100 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.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. Reviewed by: Robbie Collin
    May 26, 2013
    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
    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
    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
    An utterly ravishing portrait of listless luxuriance, a fantasy of decadent wealth and beauty.
  5. 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.
  6. Reviewed by: Kevin Harley
    Oct 22, 2013
    Splashes of overstatement aside, the ambition intoxicates.
  7. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Nov 22, 2013
    The melancholy in this film is just as trumped up as the frenzy.

See all 29 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 24
  2. Negative: 4 out of 24
  1. 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
  2. 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. Expand
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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).
  6. 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. Expand
  7. 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. Expand

See all 24 User Reviews

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