La Grande Bellezza reviewed

Like some Italians, Louise Kennedy, an Irish resident of Rome, feels let down by La Grande Bellezza.

The prestigious Academy Award win of the film La Grande Bellezza came as no surprise to the cinematic world.

Although the film garnered a raft of official accolades from Italy, including honorary Rome citizenship for its director Paolo Sorrentino, the icy welcome it received from the italiano medio or the "average Italian" is, on the other hand, surprising. Surely the bellezza of the award should have provoked pride. It seems quite the contrary, however, and for many the reason is quite clear.

The film is no doubt majestic and clever in its cinematography, which renders the whole film indeed powerful. The characters are extravagant but realistic in terms of upper-class in Rome. Their lavish lives are not unknown to real Roman citizens.

However certain elements just don't fit into the bigger picture of the film, including several futile characters and a lack of substance in general, which many argue is the essence of Sorrentino’s opera.

It is almost impossible to avoid capturing the eternity of Rome and its monuments when shooting a film here. It has been done time and time again ever since Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. That is undoubtedly what the rest of the world couldn’t wait to see.

But could it be that Rome and Italy were waiting for something completely different for a change? Surely a bigger challenge in shooting a film in Rome would be avoiding the support of the monuments it beholds and focusing on what lies beyond the stereotype.

Comparing the decadence of the upper-class to the beauty and timelessness of the city of Rome is a nostalgic comment on what the city of Rome once was and could have been today. However, it is not just upper-class society that finds itself in a state of decadence.

The aesthetic beauty of Rome and Italy is itself in a state of decadence and only the Italians can really appreciate this truth.

Louise Kennedy