Why would a man with seemingly limitless promise as a novelist fail to write for 40 years and pursue a life of hedonistic emptiness instead?
Such is the mystery at the center of Paolo Sorrentino’s stunning new film Le Grande Belleza (The Great Beauty)
Jep Gambardelli, the aging ‘novelist’ in question, is certainly a man who is acutely self-aware. Unlike some of his friends he does not delude himself into imagining he has deep profound reasons for his lack of artistic endeavor. He has purposefully set out to become a man who can make or break a Rome party by his approval or barbs and dedicated his life to this worthless activity.
What’s more it is clear from the way he views these scenes and life throughout his home city that his artistic sense is alive and well. He can see beauty and strangeness is the smallest things and can laugh at the stupidity he sees in the events he attends.
He can even fall in love again proving that however jaded he maybe there is still core to his being that remains pure and alive.
Many have seen the film and Sorrentino’s novel ‘Everybody’s Right’ as a comment on the superficiality of modern Italy and the course it has taken over the last 30 years, including the filmmaker himself.
Yet the ‘Le Grande Bellezza’ is much more than some dry treatise on modern Italy or for that matter an updated take on La Dolce Vita has some have written, it is in fact a superbly stylish tale of how a man finds it within himself to create again.
Profound, fun and strangely uplifting, ‘Le Grande Belleza’ is a life enhancing gem.