Published Mar 31, 2014Italy's The Great Beauty shouldn't have won this year's Oscar for best foreign picture. This blu-ray release is timed to capitalize on that victory, which should have belonged to the vastly superior The Hunt, from Denmark.
Why? The Great Beauty is a tedious exploration of Jep Gambardella, a nightclubbing playboy who turns 65 and takes stock of the lavish nightlife of Rome that he's been enjoying all these years. Problem is, what he discovers isn't entirely clear. Jep is supposed to look beyond the champagne decadence of Rome's parties, cafes and nightclubs and find that life is, well, beautiful. Huh?
Sorrentino's film frequently takes long, exquisitely filmed detours to show off the sumptuous architecture of Rome at day, sunrise and night. Then, he jumps back to Jep boogieing on some rooftop club or sitting post-coital in bed looking bored. It's hard to follow Jep, never mind get a sense of him, when his story is so often interrupted by what, after a while, starts to feel like a travel.
Jep's life is vapid, devoid of any conflict, ambition or tragedy to make it interesting. Jep is boring and so is this pointless 142-minute film, which relies on slick filmmaking to carry its story. Eye candy, as delicious as it is here, still amounts to empty characters and an unrewarding movie-going experience.