"The Great Beauty": "Felliniesque" in the Modern Era Means Naked Selfies, but Still Little People

Toni Servillo in The Great Beauty
Toni Servillo in The Great Beauty

Location Info


Opera Plaza Cinemas

601 Van Ness
San Francisco, CA 94102-3200

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: Hayes Valley/ Tenderloin


Not rated. Opens Friday at the Opera Plaza.

Related Stories

More About

If calling a movie "Fellini-esque" is a cliché, then applying that term to an Italian movie about an older, creatively blocked artist wandering through a decadent, occasionally grotesque yet always beautiful modern Rome borders on lazy. And still, if the Bruno Magli Maioco fits: Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty is molto felliniano. But it's a damn good Fellini. The aging artist is Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), a writer who has managed to coast on the success of a single novel he wrote 40 years earlier, so much so that even with his current journalism gig he has an impossibly perfect apartment in Rome overlooking both the Coliseum and a verdant nunnery. Jep now finds himself taking stock of just what it all means, while floating through a Rome of parties, casual nude performance art, gorgeous lighting, and fluid camera work, and in which in people post naked selfies to Facebook, because even in Italy it's 2013. Another updating from Fellini's world is that the practically obligatory dwarf (Giovanna Vignola) is an actual character — she's Jep's editor, no less. Something that hasn't changed are the images of permissiveness and open sexuality that once made foreign films, Italian in particular, seem so exotic. The taboos may be fewer, but The Great Beauty still goes places most American films don't.

My Voice Nation Help

This movie was a huge disappointment.  Critics compare this film to "La Dolce Vita," and there's no sense to that at all.  

There is no plot, little story, and only the vagaries of sense.  This was a film that could have easily been titled "The Great Snore" or "The Great Bore," but nobody would have gone to see it, so somewhere along the line somebody had to find a title to make the darn thing salable.  

Here's the thing:  You want a sardonic, dry and unpretentious view of Rome?  Read Alberto Moravia (who is mentioned in this film -- sadly) or watch any movie made that was based on his novels.  This would be infinitely better than this visual attempt at playing a Jackson Pollack artist Italian-style.  

The unadulterated pretentiousness of trying to expose artistic pretentiontious without any self-reflection whatsoever is --- b.o.r.i.n.g.


Now Showing

Find capsule reviews, showtimes & tickets for all films in town.

Powered By VOICE Places

Box Office

Scores provided by Rotten Tomatoes

Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, film info & more!

©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.