Two years after having travelled throughout the length and breadth of the USA with Sean Penn in This Must Be The Place, Paolo Sorrentino returns to his home country to paint an unindulgent picture of the Italian aristocracy undermined by boredom, set in a refined Rome.
Photo from the film © RR
Rome, its green gardens, its antique palaces and its luxurious villas: this is the idyllic setting of the plot of La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty), Paolo Sorrentino’s fifth feature film. The heart of this eternal city, fascinating and majestuous in the eye of Sorrentino’s camera, is where the Italian aristocracy, cynical and disillusioned, mopes. The film-maker endeavours to underline its ever-deepening disenchantment, which is nourished by a certain weariness that he noticed after having been witness to the eccentricities of Roman evening parties several times when preparing his film.
By making Rome seem more refined, as if to better highlight the uneasiness of the members of the nobility, where artists and intellectuals tired of their daily life, made up of appearances, gossip and vileness, mix, Paolo Sorrentino admits to having used this contrast in his film. The Rome he portrays, which makes a major contribution to the unsatisfied decadent humanity, tends to remind us of that in La Dolce Vita, one of Federico Fellini’s masterpieces, winner of the Palme d’Or in 1960. Paolo Sorrentino openly admits this: the allusion to the narrative outline of the film of the maker of Roma (1972) and Otto e Mezzo (Eight and a Half), presented Out of Competition in 1963, is explicit.
Sorrentino has imagined a story to symbolise this suffocating Roman aristocracy, in which we can find the character of Jep Gambardella, an accomplished journalist wishing to drag himself out of the monotony of his own existence which can be summed up by a cynical enjoyment of the social life on offer to him. Jep is the narrator of the film, played by Toni Servillo, who is shooting with the film-maker from Naples for the fourth time, after L'Uomo In Più (One Man Up) (2001), Le Conseguenze Dell'Amore (The Consequences of Love) (2003) and Il Divo, Jury Prize winner in 2008.
Tuesday 21 May / Grand Théâtre Lumière / 11.30a.m. – 10p.m.
Wednesday 22 May / Salle du Soixantième / 2p.m.