Director: Paolo Sorrentino
We all get something different out of art. Some escape their regular lives for intervals of drifting into the others’ work, some have cocooned themselves with it, and some couldn’t give a shit. In Sorrentino’s newest, Jep Gambardella (Gomorra and Il Divo’s Toni Servillo), an acclaimed writer and curmudgeony arts columnist, finds himself completely oversaturated with the scene. Nothing inspires him anymore, and a crisis begins when Jep learns that his first muse is no longer living.
Informally broken into chapters, Gambardella is confronted with a series of characters (an intimidating new neighbour, an old friend’s stripper daughter, the next pope) and new inspirations as he looks for a love deeper than intimacy. Despite its trying length, The Great Beauty never drags or fully lulls. Its mini-series-esque nature is partly responsible for that, but there’s acclaim to be given for the buoyancy of Sorrentino’s camera, which for a while refuses to be still on anything this world of detail, and the intriguing, animated and venomous conversations between Jep and his elitist circle.
On my way out of the screening, I heard one attendee scoff that Sorrentino is a hack, and it’s easy to understand the toxic divisiveness of the film. There’s a lot to be put off by when a single work makes such glossing statements about artistic truth, which is why, for some, Jep’s wind down may feel more like becoming the pretentious players he earlier scorned than rising above them. (Zack Kotzer)
Monday, September 9th, Scotiabank 1, 9:45pm
Wednesday, September 11th, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2, 12:15pm