Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Not-so-Sweet "Dolce Vita"

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Galatea Ranzi and Toni Servillo

Not So Sweet Life of “Great Beauty”

What is the flip side of “La Dolce Vita?”
A short answer is “The Great Beauty,” which is Italy’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film in this year’s Academy Awards.
Toni Servillo stars as Jep Gambardella, a jaded journalist with one hit novel to his credit. The film, written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino, begins with a quotation from Celine’s “Journey Into the Night.”
This sets the somber tone in an otherwise exquisitely beautiful Rome in which Jep reflects on his largely wasted, womanizing, partying, superficial life upon his 65th birthday.
In this sumptuous, beautifully-photographed elegy (cinematography by Luca Bigazzi), we see a parade of Felliniesque characters from Jep’s childhood and Catholic upbringing to his swinging, libertine heyday as a star journalist to his current reflective state after the death of an old girlfriend.
Rome has never looked more beautiful than in this fantasy, in which Jep’s designer apartment is just across the street from the Coliseum. The women are beautiful in various stages of dress and undress and the men are philosophical and fatalistic.
“I was looking for the great beauty but I never found it,” Jep says at the end of the film. I beg to differ. All he had to do was open his eyes to the glory of Rome.


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