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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'The Great Beauty': An Exquisite Tale of Wistful Reflection and Personal Enlightenment from Italy

Movie poster for the 2013 film The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza)

The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza) (2013) is an enchanting Italian drama starring Tony Servillo as Jep Gambardella, a 60-something Roman socialite highly enamored with the lavish lifestyle of an aging bon vivant. A former author, journalist and theatre critic, Jep itches to finally complete his second novel—but is far too absorbed in dalliances with high society to find the necessary focus.

Surrounded by an eclectic selection of friends, acquaintances and lovers, Jep carouses whimsically before encountering the widowed former husband of Elisa, his one true love in life. The grieving man surrenders the late Elisa's private diary, her love affair with Jep chronicled in great detail, leaving Jep deeply dismayed. The storyline follows as Jep meanders throughout Rome in a state of profound reflection on life and the very nature of existence, revisiting his various compatriots while yearning for enlightenment.

Co-written and directed by Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino (Youth, The Hand of God), The Great Beauty is a ravishing yet contemplative affair, imbued with an extraordinary sense of vivacity. Servillo inhabits the role of the wonderfully compelling Jep to perfection, delivering a deeply resonant depiction of late-life existential malaise. Exuberant, wryly amusing and genuinely entertaining within its episodic framework, it's a unique and transfixing foreign language viewing experience.


Watch the trailer:


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