This year for the Toronto International Film Festival I was tasked with picking a film in a very specific time slot for five wildly different people. The only title which looked promising was The Great Beauty, but it was Italian and one of our group didn’t like subtitled movies. It was months away from winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.
Despite the required reading, I chose it and crossed my fingers. During the screening, which I found entrancing, beautiful, and strangely compelling, I couldn’t help sneak a peak at my movie mates. They all looked like they were basking in the glow of a great piece of art. That made me happy. We then spent our dinner in delirious conversation about The Great Beauty. How often does this happen?
This movie should really be called A Great Performance. In the very first scene you make eye contact with its star, Toni Servillo, and he will not let you escape for the entire story. He plays Jep, a lover of Rome and one of its aging cultural elites. He has just turned 65 and is ruminating about his life in all its myriad decadence. The younger Jep not only wanted to be the star of any party, but also wanted to be able to ruin one on a whim. The older and more nostalgic Jep is much more philosophical and confessional. You might not like him, but his insights into history, art, and even the human soul will tie you up.
The lyrical script, written by director Paolo Sorrentino, proves that there is a positive side to the word intellectual. This guy is a reader and we are all lucky for that. Sorrentino has been compared to Fellini, so if you crave more don’t miss our screening of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita on March 20 at 6:15. All Great Stuff!