This past weekend, we were invited to watch a foreign film showing at the Aquarius Theater in Palo Alto by friends. After dinner at Lyfe Kitchen, we walked over to the theater, a dowager establishment on Emerson.
The film is Italy’s entry for the Oscars, among other such organizations that award excellence in cinematic achievements. “La Grande Belleza,” or “The Great Beauty,” is a film set in post-Berlusconi Rome, where the protagonist/narrator, Zep Gambardella, contemplates on his upcoming 65th birthday. He dabbles in journalistic pursuits enough to keep in touch with who he feels he needs to keep in touch with in the uber-uppercrust Roman society. He had published a much lauded novel decades ago and has lived on its laurels ever since. A tug from his past plummets him into much introspection about his life and accomplishments (or lack thereof?).
The movie is a metaphor for a lot of ills that plague Italy’s societies. I would say, that it applies to most social circles in the rest of the world, even societies in the United States, which is a country in its infancy compared to Italy. The movie sashays in a Felliniesque dance, sometimes bordering on the absurd, sometimes too real to take in all in one swallow. Some realities ridicule albeit presented with beautiful swaths of the historic landscape and juxtaposed against ethereal sounds from angelic voices or grand orchestras. Think of wanton partying on a terrace of some extravagant apartment overlooking the Colosseum.
As I watched the film, I noticed the incredible amount of detail the directors and producers went through to get every scene perfect. Yes, all the way to the handkerchief on Zep’s right breast pocket or his two-tone shoes. It was clear that these were all deliberate.
After the movie, we too were moved to introspection. We could not help but feel the sort of melancholia Zep had been immersed in but at the same time, appreciative of the exquisite beauty where he is.
I don’t want to give away too much of the story, only to say that it will not disappoint in many aspects: The story, the acting, the cast, cinematography, and the sound. They were all pretty good! And if they get the Oscar nod, well, I believe the movie deserves it.
- Finding ‘Great Beauty’ Amid Rome’s Corruptions (npr.org)
- The Great Beauty Review (parallaxperspectives.wordpress.com)
- Film Review: ‘The Great Beauty’ earns it’s title by looking beyond the superficial (indieethos.wordpress.com)
- The Great Beauty: The Glory That is Rome: (huffingtonpost.com)
- Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty is Italy’s Submission for Best Foreign Language Film (blackiswhiteblog.wordpress.com)
- The Great Beauty (rogerebert.com)
- La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty). Paolo Sorrentino (Italy 2013) (alessiapalanti.wordpress.com)
- Op-Ed Columnist: The Great Desperation (nytimes.com)