- Product Rating -

Art House Asshole : The Great Beauty

| September 9, 2016

You know how when you’re wanting to go to the movie theater and you look up all the films that are showing and there are alway at least three that you’ve never heard of, let alone have any interest in seeing? Well, good news! I’ve seen those movies. I spend most of my theater experiences in art house theaters watching those movies that you’ve never heard of and then never watch. Yeah, I’m that hipster asshole. My goal with this is to spread information out about these films, that way you can decide one of the following. “That actually sounds pretty cool! I want to see that now!” or “Man, I’m glad I decided to go see the new superhero movie!”. So without further ado, here is my article and review of The Great Beauty.

If you remember correctly my list on the 2015 Filmsplosion, Youth directed by Paolo Sorrentino was my favorite film from 2015. Since that episode, I have seen more films from that year that are now in my top ten of 2015. But as of writing this article, Youth is still my number one film from 2015. So when I decided to watch this film, I had pretty high expectations. And I will tell you straight up right now, The Great Beauty might be one of my favorite films from 2013. Sorrention has blown me away again with this film. It might sound like I’m gushing this review, but that’s the overall of what this review is going to be like.

The Great Beauty follows an aged writer in Rome as he wanders through his twilight trying to find purpose. The film also follows his interactions with his fellow aged artists, his friends from his past, and younger people he decides to converse with. Very similar to Youth this is very much a talkie drama about aging and looking back on your life. The biggest complaint you will find about Youth is that it is too similar to The Great Beauty. Where I can certainly see that point of view, Michael Cain and Toni Servillo look pretty much identical in the film and have very similar characters, there are major differences. I think Youth is a far more pessimistic look at life and aging, whereas Servillo looks at life like one long joke with an unfunny punchline.

Toni Servillo plays Jep Gambardella, a man who knows everyone but has also disappointed everyone he has ever met. The film wouldn’t work if Servillo couldn’t deliver these lines with fantastic timing and charisma. Servillo’s character is just so light hearted that you feel like you know this person. After the first hour of the film, you look at him like every other character looks at him, the fun older guy who doesn’t talk much. He makes you laugh when you need to and he makes you think when it’s required. In the general sense, he’s what I would call the perfect protagonist. He is the lead and walks through the story, but at the same time he guides the audience with him and he has you experience certain things with him as well. All of this while never breaking the fourth wall. It all comes from his performance and the writing.

Speaking of the writing, the dialogue in this film is phenomenal. The story is pretty minimal, even more so than Youth, but where the film lacks in traditional story it makes up for in fantastic thought provoking dialogue. There are so many great moments in the film that convey sadness and loneliness so well. A lot of the film is a critique of art in general and how an artist creates their art, something that I know a lot of people won’t be able to relate. As an artist, it completely hit me hard, but understand that this aspect of the film might not click for you if you aren’t an artist or know much about the artistic process. The character interactions between Servillo’s character and the rest of the city, specifically the daughter of an old friend who is now a forty-year-old stripper, are both heartbreaking and heartwarming as time goes on. You learn to respect Jep in ways while also disagreeing with him on some of his stances. He feels like a friend, not someone you agree with but has the respect to understand why you don’t agree with him.

The film, much like Youth, is shot absolutely beautifully. The camera moves in a fluid fashion, making the film feel like a dream, but it never does it in a way where it’s distracting. When the camera moves you get a stream of conscience point of view of the world. You as the audience member feel as though you are walking through Rome and dancing at these parties. It is a master craft of cinematography, not in an every shot a painting kind of way but in a telling the story through camera movement kind of way.

I know I’ve been gushing on this film and obviously, I’m going to recommend it. Even though there are the aspects of the film that I don’t think will resonate with a non-artist audience member, the rest of the film is so well done that it will still make a fantastic film that you won’t regret watching. I decided to review this film today because if all goes according to schedule, I don’t expect to like the film I will be reviewing next week.

About the Author:

Henry Jarvis is the youngest member of the Reel Nerds. His favorite films include Space Jam and Dude, Where’s My Car? and Lawrence of Arabia. He enjoys those pretentious art house films that Ryan hates. He sees a lot of movies! Honestly more than he should. He replaces his lack of social skills and meaningful friendships with his love of cinema! He’s also crying while he writes this biography for himself. His favorite directors are Andrei Tarkovsky, David Fincher, and David Lean.
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