The Great Beauty ★★★★★

"I was looking for the great beauty...but I never found it."

Rewatch Review: Arguably the most beautiful film I've ever experienced, and certainly the greatest Italian film, in my opinion, Paolo Sorrentino's 'The Great Beauty' is sexy and outrageous, thought-provoking and introspective, a jolting creation of wild parties and episodic tales throughout the life of one-time author and Italian socialite Jep Gambardella. His experiences are vast yet settled, a man who lives to dominate the social scene and enjoy the passions of life while taking time for moments of nostalgia and to dwell on the only true love of his life, with a recent development that finally leads him down a reflective, hopeful outlook on his future - his connection to Rome is what holds him back from moving on yet also allows him to love life.

The cinematography in this film is so tangible to me, it really is remarkable. Luca Bigazzi's work lets you enjoy the raucous, appetitive dance parties, where alcohol, cocaine and cigarettes flow, in a way that makes you feel as if you're amongst the partygoers, and the slow-paced zooming and sweeping of the architectural shots, where the jaw-dropping, archaic splendor of Italy comes passionately to life - old ruins, exclusive late night trips in museums, lovely villa and rooftop club sequences. For me, every shot is a work of art in some form or another.

The film also work as a series of vignettes of some of the most gorgeous shots put to film - jets flying in the dawn sky, a woman screaming to kick-start a party, the haunting vocals or light instrumentals playing as Jep ambles down the streets of Rome and relishes the sights, sounds and people. Sometimes they're moments that are completely detached from the overall narrative but the collective beauty is wildly perfect and memorable. Even the usage of colors is extraordinary, adding so much life to the sequences without ever feeling overblown or unrealistic, simply natural.

Sorrentino is a powerhouse director, a man who really knows his craft and one who always has me excited for his next film or entry in the world of television, but this one has lingered with me like no other. It's a marvelous character study that evokes memories of the special romance of our first love, regrets in life and coming to terms with your place in life, imperfections and faults included, all the while using the environment and a watchful eye to share these stories and experiences in sensual, emotionally charged and impassioned ways. With all its talk and debate, it manages to be incredibly engrossing.

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