Journalist Jep Gambardella (the dazzling Toni Servillo, Il divo and Gomorrah) has charmed and seduced his way through the lavish nightlife of Rome for decades. Since the legendary success of his one and only novel, he has been a permanent fixture in the city's literary and social circles, but when his sixty-fifth birthday coincides with a shock from the past, Jep finds himself unexpectedly taking stock of his life, turning his cutting wit on himself and his contemporaries, and looking past the extravagant nightclubs, parties, and cafés to find Rome in all its glory: a timeless landscape of absurd, exquisite beauty.
dir. Paolo Sorrentino / Italy 2013 / Color / 2.35 / 142 min / In Italian w/ English subtitles
“Sometimes, movies need to move. Sorrentino’s cinema, with its rapturous camera moves, its bursts of music, and its almost naïve belief that the screen can still evoke bold emotions, is the antidote to the Cinema of Lack.”
—Bilge Ebiri, Vulture
Born in Naples in 1970, Paolo Sorrentino is one of Italian cinema’s most distinctive and stylish filmmakers. In 1998 his short film Love Has No Boundaries established a relationship with Indigo Films, who have produced all of his films to date. In 2001, his first feature, the dramatic comedy One Man Upi>, won the Silver Ribbon for Best Director and Best Screenplay at the Venice Film Festival. The film also marked his first collaboration with actor Toni Servillo. The Consequences of Love (2004), Sorrentino’s second film, premiered in Competition at the Cannes Film Festival and won 5 David di Donatello Awards for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Cinematography. The film Il divo (2008), a portrait of the Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, won the Jury Prize at Cannes and featured a stunning performance by Toni Servillo. Following This Must Be the Place (2011), his first film to be shot in America, Sorrentino returned to his home country for the acclaimed The Great Beauty (2013).
"Rome is a place where, more than any other city, the sacred and the profane go together."
- Interviewed by Larry Rother for The New York Times
"What I find compelling is the moment in which people realize, with suffering and pain, that in the past there was a time when they were happy."
- Interviewed by David Gregory Lawson for Film Comment
"Rome is very beautiful. But the beauty of the people is sometimes harder to discover. This movie tries to find the beauty that's hidden."
- Interviewed by Brian Brooks for The Film Society of Lincoln Center
“Servillo, 54, a native of the city of Afragola, is often compared to Marcello Mastroianni... and he is poised to become the only Italian leading man since Mastroianni to ascend to international stardom.”
—Matt Tyrnauer, Vanity Fair
Italian Vogue has called Toni Servillo the “most versatile Italian actor in the history of Italian cinema,” and yet he did not star in a film until he was over the age of 40. Servillo was born in Afragola, Campania in 1959, and knew at a young age that he wanted to be an actor. In 1977 he founded the Teatro Studio di Caserta, and spent the next three decades working with dozens of renowned companies and directors. His breakout film role was in Paolo Sorrentino’s One Man Up, which garnered him several nominations in Italy, followed by The Consequences of Love and Il divo. In 2008 he won the award for Best Actor at the European Film Awards for his roles in both Gomorrah and Il divo. Servillo continues to work in the theater and runs the Teatri Uniti in Naples.
Toni Servillo as Jep Gambardella
Carlo Verdone as Romano
Sabrina Ferilli as Ramona
Carlo Buccirosso as Lello Cava
Iaia Forte as Trumeau
Pamela Villoresi as Viola
Galatea Ranzi as Stefania
With Massimo De Francovich as Egidio
With Roberto Herlitzka as Cardinal Bellucci
And with Isabella Ferrari as Orietta
A film by Paolo Sorrentino
Written by Paolo Sorrentino, Umberto Contarello
Produced by Nicola Giuliano, Francesca Cima
Co-producers Fabio Conversi And Jérôme Seydoux
Associate producers Carlotta Calori, Guendalina Ponti
Associate producers Romain Le Grand, Vivien Aslanian, Muriel Sauzay
Line producer Viola Prestieri
Cinematography Luca Bigazzi
Editing Cristiano Travaglioli
Music Lele Marchitelli
Production Indigo Film
Co-production Babe Films, Pathé Production, France 2 Cinéma
With the collaboration of Medusa Film
A French-Italian coproduction developed with the support of the Media Programme of the European Union
"Aside from simply having a knack for storytelling and creating the most delightful mise-en-scène, Sorrentino also really knows how to soundtrack a film - and The Great Beauty is no exception."
—Hillary Weston, BlackBook
I Lie (David Lang) - The Torino Vocal Ensemble
World to Come IV (David Lang) - Maya Beiser
My Heart’s in the Highlands (Arvo Pärt) - Else Torp and Christopher Bowers-Broadbent
Time, from the score by Lele Marchitelli
The Beatitudes (Vladimir Martynov) - The Kronos Quartet
Dies irae from Requiem for My Friend (Zbigniew Preisner)
The Lamb (John Tavener) - The Temple Church Choir
Symphony in C Major: II. Adagio (Georges Bizet) - The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
River Flows, from the score by Lele Marchitelli
Symphony no. 3: III. Lento (Henryk Górecki) - The London Symphony Orchestra w/ Dawn Upshaw
Beata viscera (Magister Perotinus) - Vox Clamantis
Far l’amore (Club Mix) - Bob Sinclar and Raffaella Carrà
More Than Scarlet - Decoder Ring
Take My Breath Away - Gui Boratto
Brain Waves, from the score by Lele Marchitelli
Everything Trying - Damien Jurado
Parade - Tape
Color My World, from the score by Lele Marchitelli
Forever - Antonello Venditti
Surge of Excitement, from the score by Lele Marchitelli
Water from the Same Source - Rachel’s
Settembre non comincia, from the score by Lele Marchitelli
Ti ruberò - Monica Cetti
Trumeau, from the score by Lele Marchitelli
Que no se acabe el mambo - La Banda Gorda
We No Speak Americano - Studio Allstars
Discoteca - Exchpoptrue
Mueve la colita (2012 Remix) - El Gato DJ
Ramona, from the score by Lele Marchitelli
"The Great Beauty, an essay on nostalgia, gives even the cynics a faith in the vibrancy of movies and the reviving artistry of Paolo Sorrentino ... it is the year’s grandest, most exhilarating foreign film."
—Richard and Mary Corliss, TIME Magazine
"A radiant work on the meaning of life ... The Great Beauty is drop-dead gorgeous, a film that is luxuriously, seductively, stunningly cinematic. But more than intoxicating imagery is on director Paolo Sorrentino's mind, a lot more."
—Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times
"A deliriously alive movie ... a wildly inventive and sometimes thrilling ode to sensibility and to some of its linguistic cousins, like sensation, sensitivity and sentiment."
—Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
"The face of Toni Servillo is one of the treasures of modern cinema ... Look no further, if you wish to know whether, where, and in what guise the spirit of Fellini remains at work — and, better still, at play."
—Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
"I can’t remember when a film last gave me such a surge of pure pleasure — no, outright euphoria — as The Great Beauty ... I find the film infinitely resonant, as inexhaustibly explorable as Rome itself."
—Jonathan Romney, Film Comment
"Thrillingly good ... Sorrentino offers the most ravishing footage of Rome I've ever seen."
—John Powers, Fresh Air, National Public Radio
"A blast. There’s little sense in trying to resist the film’s tumultuous visual banquet. Sorrentino's vision is the size of Rome itself, and his confidence is dazzling."
—Michael Atkinson, The Village Voice
"The Great Beauty is a subtly daring cinematic high-wire act ... And it might just be the most unforgettable film of the year."
—Bilge Ebiri, Vulture