(Dir: Paolo Sorrentino, 2013)
La Grande Bellezza is a beguiling film that pulls the viewer through a range of emotions on its continually intriguing journey of an aging writer (Toni Servillo) in Rome. Seemingly oblivious to the marching of time he spends his nights partying with friends as if he’s a third of his age, living a hedonistic lifestyle that appears fun but seems to hide a sense of loss that he feels deep within. He wants to be immersed with beauty, be it from the city he calls home and the flat overlooking the Coliseum, to romancing an aging stripper, yet all this seems like a crutch when he can never get back the one great beauty that existed and then eluded him in his youth. Something he only seems to realise now as time races up on him and those around him.
Rome is as much a character in the film, with plenty of lingering shots taking in its epic beauty but in perhaps not the most obvious places. It seems like the side that people residents who enjoy the city actually see. The fluid camera makes it feel like we’re moving around the city and getting lost in it ourselves, whilst every shot is framed to maximise the impact of its subjects. A similar effect comes from the broad range of musical styles employed on the soundtrack which ensure things never get boring. Servillo is excellent; instantly likeable and sympathetic as the madness of life progresses around him. Yet all the characters surrounding him are unique and intriguing on their own little ways too. Not only a film of total beauty but one that offers a full range of depth, life and comedy - La Grande Bellezza is fantastic and up there as one of the best films I’ve seen this year.