A movie that thinks.
memento_mori - wrote on 12/25/13
That's as good as I can begin writing this review.
La grande bellezza starts as a beautiful film of insane proportions, which leads to the imminent question: What is this about and why is it showing us the things it is showing?
It's beautiful in a sense that it is ever-changing and eventful. Like a movie looking for something. Colors are often muted or accentuated, surreal images are shown to contrast with the rather down-to-earth mentality displayed through the excellent framing and cinematography.
For the first hour or so I was very invested in the visuals and very self-critical, bombastic style that the film had. I like films that explode into dialogue at points, but also have their quiet moments.
At certain points the film started to die on me, because it didn't seem to know where it was going with its nine-hundred-and-eighty-five subplots.
By the end of the movie, it felt like a giant observation of everything abstract and ordinary, for no good reason in particular. I hate to render a film pointless, but this movie sometimes infuriated me while watching it for starting something and not finishing it. For example, there is a shot where a man driving a car closes his eyes and starts speeding ahead. What happens to him? We don't know. Then, what was the point of showing it if it doesn't assist the story?
It is evident that bright minds are behind the camera here, though. I'm not going to laud it with the highest of praise, like the audiences and critics of this year's Cannes Film Festival, but it surely is an experience that will not soon be forgotten.
My main problem was: It needed to decide what kind of film it was trying to be. A non-linear exercise in morals and the question of life, or a story about a man facing a mid-life crisis. You can't make an easy cross of The Tree of Life and American Beauty. I'm glad the ending stuck by its original theme, though. That was a great ending.
I think I understand it for the most part. It means to tell that we shouldn't look for the great beauty in our lives when you have been among it all along.
To stare reality directly in the face is a task ill-advised. This movie understands it.
It understands that with the tools of non-linear storyline, one can build a different perspective.
It's one of the most creative films I've seen this year and can well-understand why it was nominated for the Palme d'Or. It basically tells us what the great beauty in life is, it's us. It's life itself, our lives. We just have to choose to see it as that, in whatever form.
Because with great thought comes great judgment.