By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood November 1, 2013 at 4:27PM
A new official trailer has arrived for Paolo Sorrentino's "The Great Beauty," Italy's Oscar selection for this year's Foreign-Language race. The film is a formally gorgeous, lyrically shot epic following an aging journalist (the eminently watchable Toni Servillo of "Il Divo" fame) floating through Rome's never-ending party scene. Think the sick soul of Europe with a thumping baseline. Servillo's character contemplates a lost love, as well as the one novel he wrote decades earlier, hailed as a masterpiece. Watch the trailer below, plus check out our review roundup.
"The Great Beauty" hits New York theaters November 15, and LA November 22, via Janus Films.
Paolo Sorrentino has returned to Cannes with a gorgeous movie, the film equivalent of a magnificent banquet composed of 78 sweet courses. It is in the classic high Italian style of Fellini's La Dolce Vita and Antonioni's La Notte: an aria of romantic ennui among those classes with the sophistication and leisure to appreciate it. The grande bellezza, like the grande tristezza, can mean love, or sex, or art, or death, but most of all it here means Rome, and the movie wants to drown itself in Rome's fathomless depths of history and worldliness.
Rome in all its splendor and superficiality, artifice and significance, becomes an enormous banquet too rich to digest in one sitting in Paolo Sorrentino’s densely packed, often astonishing “The Great Beauty.” A tribute to, and castigation of, the city whose magnificence has famously entrapped its residents in existential crises, the pic follows a stalled author gradually awakening from the slumber of intellectual paralysis. Very much Sorrentino’s modern take on the themes of Fellini’s “La dolce vita,” emphasizing the emptiness of society amusements, “Great Beauty” will surprise, perplex and bewitch highbrow audiences yearning for big cinematic feasts.
A contemporary riff on “La Dolce Vita,” among other cinematic and literary touchstones, it stars a fantastic Toni Servillo as Jep Gambardella, a Rome journalist. After enjoying early success as a novelist, Jep has settled into — or perhaps for — an existence of rotating pleasures and unending parties, ravishingly beautiful women and lavishly prepared meals. A sensualist of rarefied taste and sensibility, he leads a life that is at once empty and overflowing and that, much like Mr. Sorrentino’s fluid moving cameras and people, moves to the insistent beat of life.
When the film begins, Jep is celebrating his 65th birthday. After a prelude so eccentric it makes you want to cheer – a Japanese tourist eagerly takes photographs of the Roman skyline before collapsing on the cobbles, having apparently overdosed on the sheer splendour of the place – we cut to Jep’s penthouse suite, opposite the Coliseum, where a social gathering is taking place on the roof terrace. I say gathering: this little function would make one of Caligula’s livelier soirées look like a tea dance, and Sorrentino uses it to deafen us with images and blind us with music.