Tonight I watched La Grande Bellezza (“The Great Beauty”) directed by Paolo Sorrentino.
I’d never heard of this film but it won the best foreign film Oscar a couple of years ago. It’s definitely atmospheric and meandering but it rewards with beautiful imagery and some very witty and cutting dialogue. It starts Toni Servillo, in a virtuoso performance as Jep, an aging playboy who wrote a great novel in his 20s but then devolved to living a party fueled society life in Rome. He has some demons and regrets that play out in fabulous Roma locations.
The film is surreal but in a way that is not creepy or disturbing, which seems unique these days. It plays in some ways as a love letter to Rome itself. The scenery isn’t just set pieces, but a character in itself. Also, as a fashionista, I couldn’t help but appreciate the sartorial splendor of Jep’s endless parade of colorful and natty shirts, coats and shoes.
This kind of film falls into my category of a “coffee movie”. That’s a film that can be well enjoyed either late on a calm night or on a rainy afternoon with a pot of coffee. It’s long at 2 1/2 hours but I found it worth the time.
La Grande Bellezza is available as part of The Critereon Collection on Hulu Plus. (That’s where we found it.)