Jep Gambardella has seduced his way through the lavish nightlife of Rome for decades, but after his 65th birthday and a shock from the past, Jep looks past the nightclubs and parties to find a timeless landscape of absurd, exquisite beauty.
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Journalist Jep Gambardella has charmed and seduced his way through the lavish nightlife of Rome for decades. Since the legendary success of his one and only novel, he has been a permanent fixture in the city's literary and social circles, but when his sixty-fifth birthday coincides with a shock from the past, Jep finds himself unexpectedly taking stock of his life, turning his cutting wit on himself and his contemporaries, and looking past the extravagant nightclubs, parties, and cafés to find Rome in all its glory: a timeless landscape of absurd, exquisite beauty. Written by
To say that La Grande Bellezza overflows with references to La Dolce Vita, the beacon which still sheds its nostalgic light upon Rome's nightlife and myth, is an understatement. In this regard, originality is certainly not a quality that one is likely to find in that film. Similarly to its model, La Grande Bellezza's main character is a middle-aged man who has renounced his literary ambitions so as to revel in Rome's superficial jet set; this allows him to hold a privileged position as both witness and accomplice to the "eternal city"'s contradictions. Likewise, Jep Gambardella is both detached and passionate, cynical and elegiac about his city and its inhabitants - much like, apparently, the film's director. The film basically consists of a series of apparently disconnected episodes in Jep's roaming around the Italian capital. These episodes are suffused with a breathtaking sense of beauty and awe (yes, you will fall in love with Rome when you see this!), yet these scenes are systematically mitigated contrapuntally by grotesque interludes, satirical of Rome's religious, artistic or social elite, much as in Fellini's film. In short, for me Sorrentino's film is the dream offspring, updated and highly stylized, of the giant it never ceases to pay homage to.
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