Last month I happened to watch the new movie of Paolo Sorrentino, the Great Beauty. And I actually meant to write this post before all what happened at the oscars. But anyway – it was evident that the movie was quite above average and had good chances to win something abroad – so here we are now, all talking about the movie XD.
When last year I watched his previous work, “This must be the place”, I admit I fell asleep at some moments, but I remember thinking “Hey, watch out Sorrentino’s works, he really does something ‘different’ from the italian mainstream cinema”.
In my view, the great beauty is not perhaps a groundbreaking movie, but it has really got great visual artistry throughout. That’s pure cinema: it’s all about the pictures and images! And especially if you consider Italian cinema, which in recent years focused mostly on producing trashy domestic products and some occasional drama, I still think Sorrentino’s style is a fresh breath of air in the Italian movie production scene. Though I clearly consider it a pleasant case of “export cinema”. That is, as an Italian Expat living abroad, I quite liked Sorrentino’s approach. I got that kind of feeling that – yes, this is a movie about Italy – but so surreal, with a lack of empathy, as if everything was watched from a distance.
So I thought, this view of Italian decadence is not so Italian (as we tend to get very emotional, and alwas pity ourselves), but more American style, or at least how the Americans / Hollywood would like to see us. As a kind of metaphysical/post-armani bunch of old and cracked “artists” living in old villas and taking long walks by the streets of the eternal city, Rome.
I always thought Italy of being an amazing, unique blend between a “Beauty & Beast” kind of effect. We have such highs of culture and art (renaissance, medieval towns, fashion and craftmanship, nature and landscape, poetry, the bound with latin and ancient world, awesome food) that regularly intersect with undeniable lows (sluggish industrial development, financial problems, berlusconism & politics, mafia and violence, trashy attitudes, the underclass, lack of reforms and a sometimes backward education system compared to developed countries).
Maybe I have lived abroad just too long, but that’s the way I see it. Does that sound too stereotypical?
And in this sense, Sorrentino’s movie does its job. Because this movie is NOT “Life is wonderful”. But it really catch that glimpse: great beauty lingering, in a state of surreal chaos, boredom and lurking ugliness..