Monday, March 3, 2014

La Grande Bellezza

Disclaimer: This post might be a bit more rambling than I might have liked, due to the fact that I've been drugged up on cold medicine for the past few days. Bleh.

I didn't stay up last night to follow the Oscars, I've never been a big film fan, but I was very interested in the outcome of one particular category - Best Foreign Language Film. When it came to reading the news about La Grande Bellezza's win I was pleased, but not surprised. Ever since the Golden Globes Italy had been quietly confident that Paulo Sorrentino would also be taking home the statue at the Oscars.

As with much of Italian tv, Italian film appeals to the lowest common denominator - going back years it's full of scantily clad women and crude jokes. The finest (?) example of this is the 'comedy' that comes out every Christmas, nicknamed cinepanettone (a combination of cinema and panettone). It's void of substance and relies on cheap laughs and sex jokes. La Grande Bellezza isn't without this, but it's limited to a few scenes without being gratuitous.

'Intelligent' films like La Grande Bellezza are few and far between. And I must admit that it was the praise and recognition it had received abroad that encouraged me to watch it. Almost all the most popular Italian films are things that I wouldn't want to watch, because the actors or the storylines. I know that makes me sound like a foreign snob, but I wish things were different. I was very disappointed at Christmas when I was taken to the cinema to see one of Christmas's most popular films, the whole room was laughing at the Italian humour whilst I was just wondering what on earth was so funny. I desperately wanted to be like everybody else who was watching it.

La Grande Bellezza made me think of the films by Fellini that I'd seen when I was at university. Not so much for the surrealism (though there's more than a touch of that if you think of it as being removed from the reality of everyday Italians) but for the extravagance and exaggeration of the lifestyles of the characters. And that's one of the things I liked the most about the film, the aspect of seeing how the other half live. These characters' lives couldn't be any more different to mine and I found it fascinating. And as the title suggests, it's an aesthetically beautiful film, set in Rome. These are the lives of the beautiful people living their beautiful lives in a beautiful city.

I'm very glad to see what I consider to be a great Italian film recognised abroad. So little film (and music) gets any kind of mainstream recognition outside Italy, and it's very much deserved in this case.


Jenny P said...

Thanks for this recommendation. Even though I speak very little Italian as yet, I'm tempted to go and see this film. Grazie mille.

Nerys said...

Hope you enjoy it Jenny!