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The Ilarini on "The great beauty"

Updated on November 19, 2015

The loneliness and the aging are the protagonists

"La grande bellezza" is a movie on nostalgia, on regrets, on failures, on aging. Yes, on aging, because it's well known that the most beautiful things belong to the past, and only the past. Jeb dreams about his girlfriend of when he was 40 years younger. His friends delude themselves with the idea of getting younger with surgery, elegant clothes and disco music. The most direct consequence of aging is death, which soaks into the whole movie and threatens inevitably and repeatedly. It looks like the characters try to survive in a lonely limb while waiting to die, without any ambition left, without any will. The sacred music that accompanies the film leaves the sensation of the solemn gait of a coffin. They don't have any hope, they wasted their occasion to be truly happy. In this context, the sentence at the end of the movie "It's good to know that there is still something beautiful to do. The future is wonderful" sounds pretty ironic, but at the same time donates us a momentary awareness that happiness lives in the small moments, in the small things. Towards the end of the movie, the enraptured face of the nun, who is able to fulfill her objective, even if she is 104 years old, gives us a grain of hope that not everything is lost.

Loneliness is another theme. The movie teaches us that every one of us, especially in death, is alone. Like Viola, who asks for help but nobody listens. Like Stefania, whose mouth is full of lies that make her feel less alone. Or do they? Like Jeb himself, who needs to physically be among a lot of intellectual, interesting people, but in the end looks for the company of a simple, genuine, small person. The apex of his loneliness happens when he is surrounded by elderly people, and only one thought comes to his mind: who will take care of me? Those old men and women represent his future.

The Great Beauty - Official Trailer

The actors are just formidable. Servillo is charming like a 20 years old guy, Sabrina Ferilli is beautiful even with deep dark circles and her disillusioned smile, Isabella Ferrari can be the wealthy, bored and frivolous woman with extreme naturalness. The characters are alive, true. They let you in their souls. They make you wish to keep them company, on the Roman dark roofs.

Critics more distinguished than me categorized the movie as a film on the downfall of Rome. I humbly disagree. I believe this is a movie on people. Parties, drugs, betrayals, occasional sex are only effects of a much bigger disease: the impossibility of escaping failures and pain, and the incapacity of facing them. This is a movie that could have taken place everywhere. Rome is just a beautiful background.

What's your favorite Sorrentino's film?

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