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Review: 'The Great Beauty'

January 17, 2014 10:46 a.m.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews "The Great Beauty."

Related Story: Review: 'The Great Beauty' ('La Grande Bellezza')


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ANNOUNCER INTRO: Italy’s The Great Beauty” just received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando says don’t miss the film’s one-week run at the Ken Cinema.
“The Great Beauty” is a film about death that’s neither tragic nor sad. Instead its tone is reflective and bittersweet, and its cinematic style is intoxicating.

CLIP Scream and music

Director Paolo Sorrentino is that rare thing, a director who imprints every frame with his own personal vision. He has definite influences. He displays the visual beauty and elegant camera moves of Terrence Malick but with the impish love of the grotesque and the absurd made popular by his countryman Federico Fellini. In “The Great Beauty,” Tony Servillo plays Jep, a one-time novelist who now interviews artists, most of whom he finds pretentious and irritating. One woman slams her head against a wall as a performance and can’ explain the “vibrations” that motivate her. Then a little girl cries as she throws paint on a canvas.

CLIP Girl crying

Jep has no patience for the first woman and validates what the girl does by explaining she makes millions. But it’s a soft spoken man who simply presents a gallery of photos taken of him every day since he was born that manages to move Jep to tears. Sorrentino raises questions about artists and the authenticity of their art even at the risk of turning the scrutiny on himself and his film.

Rome, someone says, is known for fashion, and “The Great Beauty” displays an elegant sense of style as well as a passionate, introspective soul.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.