The Great Beauty: A Grand Illusion

Italian director Paolo Sorrentino debuts his latest film

Courtesy of Janus Films.

At the center of director Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty, Italy’s contender for an Oscar, is the impeccably tailored socialite-writer Jep Gambardella, whose fading post–Silvio Berlusconi Rome of terraces, nightclubs, and salons is filled with broke aristos, stalled playwrights, and aging trophy wives. The entertaining and gorgeously rendered film, in theaters December 6, regards the artifice around Gambardella much the way he does: with a droll sense of irony. A 65-year-old novelist who hasn’t written a second book since his youthful debut became essential reading, Gambardella substitutes his lack of industry with grand personal style. It’s no coincidence that his indulgent decline mirrors Italy’s own.