The Great Beauty (‘La Grande Bellezza’)

DRAMA; 2hr 22min (Italian with subtitles)

STARRING: Toni Servillo, Sabrina Ferilli

Nude, reclining: Ferilli and Servillo

Jep Gambardella (Servillo) is a prodigiously popular, urbanely elegant, 65-year-old Roman newspaper journalist and nightclub owl. He’s still lionised for a novel he wrote 40 years ago — his one and only — and he’s about to undergo the epiphany in futility he has long deserved in director Paolo Sorrentino’s diamond-paned, Fellini-style window onto the Eternal City party set.


Rome, where historical ruins co-exist with freeways, is a pertinent barometer with which to re-evaluate fleeting pleasures. For Jep, scores of chicly surreal social and arty options beckon, yet he remains deliberately removed from anything too taxing or intimate. He’s a hedonist wearied by the indulgence he still craves, coasting through sexual encounters (Ferilli is a stripper with whom he spends lo-fi time) while newly mourning a long-lost love.


Seductive, peculiar, puzzling and frustrating, Sorrentino’s lushly shot metropolis is a moth-to-flame pleasure dome in which gratification pans out as just another commodity. “This is my life,” Jep laments, “and it’s nothing.”