Domenica, 21 Ottobre 2018

Sorrentino shines at Cannes


(By Francesco Gallo) Milan, May 21 - The only Italian
entry in this year's Cannes Film Festival, Paolo Sorrentino's La
Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty), was a hit with audiences
during its sneak-preview for the press.
The film that opened on Tuesday confirmed it was in the
running for the much sought Palme d'Or prize.
The Neapolitan director was invited in April by the
festival's organizers to present his film at this year's 66th
edition, being held in the seaside resort on the French Riviera
May 15-26.
His latest feature film is about a Rome culture and style
journalist who recollects his youth.
It is a collection of aesthetically perfect 'pictures' that
depicts an indolent Rome, populated by rude people, plastic
women and men of little substance.
Playing a sort of 'guide' through this Rome is Jep
Gambardella (played by Toni Servillo), a 65-year-old journalist
and writer who acts as a sort of sophisticated, cynical and
ironic Virgil.
Gambardella arrives in Rome when he's 26, the same age as
Federico Fellini, and he brings with him all the curiosity of
the provinces, as well as a high-class Neapolitan accent.
He comes from a wealthy family, has the right dress for all
occasions and knows the right people who enjoy the same type of
nightlife as he does.
He often entertains them in his Rome flat, whose terrace
has a view of the Coliseum.
Every imaginable character has at some point passed through
Gambardella's flat: from the very wealthy and morally uptight
radical-chic to a sort of botulin guru who scolds her customers
as she pumps up their features; from the artist who puts on
self-destructive performances to the slightly aged strip-dancer,
played by Sabrina Ferilli, who looks upon Gambardella's world
with a healthy dose of detachment; from the failed, yet
ambitious and fragile actor - played by an extraordinary Carlo
Verdone, funny and with a pair of oversize sunglasses together
with his usual set of improbable stories - to the missionary
who has so married the cause of poverty as to live off a diet
rich in roots.
But the real protagonists of The Great Beauty are the mass
of parvenus, politicians, journalists, actors, degenerate
nobility, high prelates, artists and intellectuals, real or
false, who parade through the picture.
It's these people who all dance to the techno beat at
Gambardella's terrace parties, where the outsider from Naples
becomes the insider everyone wants to be.
"I didn't want to simply become a socialite, I wanted to
become the king of the socialites. I didn't want to only
participate in the parties, I wanted to have the power to make
them fail," Gambardella tells himself at one point in the movie.
As with all movies, The Great Beauty also has its cult
phrase moment when Gambardella, reflecting on his youth, says:
"When I was young they used to ask us kids what was the most
beautiful thing in the world. All my friends would say 'a stupid
girl', while I would say 'the smell of old peoples' homes'. I
was destined, because of this sensibility, to become a writer".
Written and developed by Sorrentino himself with the help
of Umberto Contarello, the film is dedicated to Neapolitan
journalist Giuseppe D'Avanzo, who died two years ago.
Sorrentino, known for such previous Cannes selections as
This Must Be The Place (2011) and Il Divo (2008), is Italy's
sole candidate in the official competition for the top-prize
Palme d'Or.
Born in Naples, Sorrentino's other two Cannes films are The
Consequences of Love (2004) and The Family Friend (L'amico di
famiglia, 2006).

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