In Paolo Sorrentino’s previous film, This Must Be The Place, God is described as stillness, as the snow that rests. This is peace, the snowflake’s journey is never over as it prepares to alter form, but in its stillness lies the art of a calmness that transcends all other states of being. Without spoiling the film, Sorrentino’s first international success, The Consequences of Love, concludes with a moment of total immobility. It is not stillness, it is the total loss of movement, and it is a rare moment of hopeless loss in oeuvre. The gliding, throbbing, endlessly propulsive movement of life is the dominant motif that unifies Sorrentino’s diverse filmography. It is easily noted in the pounding mixture of sound and movement that rushes the audience off their feet, so to speak, in the truly ecstatic birthday party that stands as the first chapter. It is impossible to read a review of a Sorrentino film without it being mentioned that he has a hell of a way with cinematic movement. But this movement is not only for the eye; his characters are constantly engaged in a desire or failure to move forward. Through his engagement with their quests, Sorrentino demonstrates himself as one of the great multimedia philosophers of 21st century life. Unlike many of his fellows, his films refuse the brick wall of nihilism, nimbling capering over or around them with a sense of hope, dignity and respect that electrifies. The Great Beauty is no exception.
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