The opening night of the 14th Palace Lavazza Italian Film Festival in Adelaide was steeped in music and gaiety, and the gala screening of The Great Beauty reflected the party mood of the celebration.
Set in contemporary Rome, the story revolves around Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), a man with poise, presence and an enigmatic personality.
In the midst of drinking and dancing the night away at his 65th birthday, Jep reflects on his arrival in Rome some 40 years earlier at the age of 26. He recalls launching into a “whirlwind of high life”, attending parties, galleries and cultural exhibitions as he rode a wave of kudos after the completion of his first novel, The Human Apparatus.
From his well-to-do bachelor pad, situated a stone’s throw from the Colosseum, Jep keeps a thread of youth alive by hosting all-night parties to help offset the recurring feeling of being old and tiresome. Working as an arts writer for a national newspaper, he interviews artists while awaiting a bout of inspiration for his next book.
Jep is also searching for deeper meaning – and he’s not alone. Most of the characters look outside of themselves for the answers to life’s big questions, while seeking comfort in a quick fix to get them through the night.
The Great Beauty is a reminder that just as life can take us by surprise, distractions can keep us preoccupied, creating a distorted view of the world. The ever-present desire for beauty and longing for a repeat performance of a long-held memory can influence our capacity to live in the moment and to make the most of what life is offering us in the here and now.
Throughout this picturesque film, the audience is offered wonderful views of Rome, from the many sculptures and bridges to the intricate and ornate architecture of palaces, fountains and ruins in their splendor. It won the best cinematography award at Italy’s Golden Globes and has been nominated for numerous other film awards.
The film is an outstanding observational and experiential commentary on life and the quest for purpose, filled with intimate observations by director Paolo Sorrentino. Audiences are transported to a world beyond the chatter, where silence and sentiment take hold and beauty reigns.
The Great Beauty is a film you will remember for the way it makes you feel. It set the scene for an outstanding Italian Film Festival.
The Great Beauty will screen a number of times at Palace Nova Eastend throughout the festival.
© Patricia Herreen 2013