I first came across ‘The Great Beauty’ watching the 2014 Golden Globes where it was nominated in the Best Foreign Film category along with Blue is the Warmest Color. On dreaded Valentines Day or like how my singles friends like to describe it ‘Galentines Day’ I decided to treat myself to a movie. In an attempt to see something different than the typical Hollywood blockbuster RomComs, I searched the TIFF website to see that ‘The Great Beauty’ was playing. All I knew about the movie was what was listed on the website: ‘A world-weary journalist drifts through the hedonistic ennui of Rome’s high-class nightlife, in this riff on Fellini’s classic La Dolce Vita by celebrated Italian auteur Paolo Sorrentino (Il Divo).’
Now, I’ve heard of Feilini, and having lived in Italy, going to Rome was always the goal, but never got a chance to see the classic city. And this movie has more than ever, planted the seed to travel to this amazing city.
The movie begins with the death of a tourist. As shocking as it is to everyone, it foreshadows the theme of the entire movie, death in the action of life. Then we meet Jep, a 65 year old Playboy who has ruled the Roman scene since he was 26. We meet the company that he keeps and get a glimpse into the lifestyle of a famous journalist. Late night parties, an apartment that overlooks the Colosseum, cultured friends who are aware of their privileged status and individuals from his past that push him to the fringes of reflection.
What I most loved about the film, other than the breathe taking architectural backdrop of the city and beautiful tailored suites was the apparent cultural differences in Europe versus North America, even between Milanese and Romans. One characters blatantly expresses ‘as a Milanese we find you Romans disgusting.’ The sense of ‘living life’ to its fullest is a fleeting concept to many, yet is one of the greatest gifts we are given on earth. In the end we learn that Jep lived his entire life searching for ‘The Great Beauty’, which begs us to question, when do you stop searching and just live?