New from the desk of The Movie Snob.
The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza) (B). I finally made it back to the theater after the Thanksgiving break and the Great Ice Storm of ’13. Instead of battling the crowds for The Hobbit, I decided to check out this new Italian movie, which got an A in the Dallas newspaper and has an impressive 86 score on Metacritic.com. I enjoyed it well enough, although it is sort of depressing. The movie is about Rome and about a fellow named Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), who is celebrating his 65th birthday at a party resembling an ancient Roman orgy when the movie begins. It seems that Jep moved to Rome as young man, wrote one phenomenally successful novel, and never wrote another book. Instead, he decided to live the high life among the Roman glitterati, and now, 40 years later, the decadence of his life is beginning to bother him just a little bit. The movie (almost two and half hours long) mostly just follows Jep around, and, since his life is aimless, the movie is fairly aimless itself. There are big parties and small gatherings at Jep’s fabulous villa overlooking the Colosseum. A few scenes involve a woman Jep loved and lost in his youth. A few scenes involve the ridiculousness of modern and performance art. For a while, Jep hangs out with the middle-aged daughter of an old friend of his, and then he doesn’t anymore. Naturally, in a movie about Rome, even decadent modern Rome, the Catholic Church has to put in an appearance. There’s an elderly cardinal, rumored to be a shoo-in for pope, who talks about nothing except recipes and cooking. And there’s a truly desiccated and ancient nun, a sort of Mother Teresa type, who takes a break from helping the poor in Africa to visit Rome and Jep’s own villa. The photography is amazing, and there are a few laughs, but the overall tone of the movie, to me anyway, was rather sad, and Jep struck me as a sad if not pathetic creature. The film is not rated, but I imagine it would be rated R for nudity, profanity, and some drug use.