Italian provocateur Paolo Sorrentino parodies, then celebrates, Italy's wasted aristocracy in this overstuffed bore.
Paolo Sorrentino (Italy, Special Presentation)
Monday, September 9, 9:45 p.m.
Scotiabank 1 (259 Richmond Street West)
Wednesday, September 11, 12:15 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 (350 King Street West)
Clocking in at a punishing 142 minutes, The Great Beauty is the sort of stylistically over-cranked, vapid movie that insists upon its importance, holding all who find themselves immune to its immodest charms hostage until they say uncle. Italian auteur Paolo Sorrentino has made a name for himself on the festival circuit for his brashness—his last film starred Sean Penn as a Robert Smith lookalike turned Nazi hunter—but his newest has little to show for its self-confidence beyond its closet full of gorgeous designer suits.
Toni Servillo, who was impressive as Giulio Andreotti in Sorrentino’s earlier film Il Divo, stars as Gambardella, a bored novelist whose best work is long behind him, such that he now spends his nights mourning his youth and hectoring female artists at gauche parties, captured via hyperactive montages, fish-eye lenses, and the like. Part-disapproving essay on Berlusconi’s dissipated Italy, and part-nostalgic reverie for the self-indulgent, sexist spectacles of Federico Fellini, the film never reconciles its conservative impulses with its alleged criticism of the jet-setting life it spends most of its running time patting on the back.