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The Globe and Mail

The Great Beauty: A ravishing portrait of listless luxuriance

Toni Servillo in The Great Beauty.

Janus Films

3.5 out of 4 stars

Written by
Paolo Sorrentino, Umberto Contarello
Directed by
Paolo Sorrentino
Toni Servillo
Italy, France

High above the city streets, so high you feel instantly buzzed, a 65th birthday party is being held for the gilded-society journalist Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo).

Rome, with all its decayed magnificence, looms charismatically in the background, but for the revellers it's just another backdrop: something their endless conga line passes by, or maybe a boutique setting for designer photo shoots.

The story of Jep's plush detachment from the real world, and the crisis of soul he'd have if he could be certain he had a soul, Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty is an utterly ravishing portrait of listless luxuriance, a fantasy of decadent wealth and beauty that evokes Fellini's La Dolce Vita by way of Baz Luhrmann.

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Indeed, so removed are these people from the real world below them, you wonder if you're not watching a movie about people already dead but too rich to notice.

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