La grande bellezza (2013)
In La Grande Bellezza, an at face value old-fashioned, European-style cultural-elitist film, writer/director Paolo Sorrentino throws an influx of ideas at you, but in the most beautiful and hypnotic manner. The first half of this motion picture is among the compositionally richest in a long time, a true tribute to the artform; something in the spirit of Godard or Fellini, had they had the necessary means and access to present-day Rome − the city to which La Grande Bellezza is both a homage and a death sentence.
The underlying theme here is one of loss − of youth, love, opportunity, meaning, et cetera. Not very uplifting stuff, had it not been for the fact that our protagonist revels in it; uses it to keep himself afloat, to keep himself at the level of self-worth he once envisioned for himself. In other words, our Jep Gambardella is a nostalgic, and so is Sorrentino and his film, who both let Jep live his decadent life in constant and disillusioned yearning for an era which they believe is long gone. That era was filled with beauty, youth and optimism, but it was also filled with other disillusioned old-timers, implies Sorrentino. And although Jep never finds any form of awakening (he is much too cynical and self-conscious for that), he does, at least intellectually, come to realise that the beauty he's missing, "la grande bellezza", still is very much around him. And more importantly, that it still exists within him in the form of memories, ideas and attributions.
La Grande Bellezza is not an ingenious, game-changing film with all the answers, but it is an insightful work of art that combines an almost endless filmatic value with a relevant and perceptive social comment.