The Great Beauty

Celebrating Rome in all its decay, this florid comedy by Paolo Sorrentino (Il Divo, This Must Be the Place) opens with a hyperbolically gaudy party honoring a celebrity journalist (Toni Servillo) on his 65th birthday. Once a promising literary talent, he now skates by as a columnist for a slick magazine, cheerfully savoring his failure and encouraging his rich, sodden friends to embrace their own. When someone asks him what he loves most in the world, he replies, “The smell of old people’s houses,” before musing that the expected answer must have been pussy; the line not only exposes him personally but nicely encapsulates the erotic spell cast by an ancient city. In Italian with subtitles.