I’ve written a new part of my book in response to this film, The Great Beauty, that I’ve been obsessed with since I saw it. Or better: I’ve written in response to my memory of the film, having only watched it once, at the cinema, not making any notes. I am partly restless to finally watch it again, partly reluctant, in any case curious to see how the writing will change on a second and third (and more) viewing. So far I’d never warmed to any of Sorrentino’s films, I always found them too stylised, controlled and smart; this one though, there’s an undercurrent of unrest and a magma of discontent, it is a portrait of void and of Italy’s void and standstill, doubled up in the standstill of a writer who doesn’t write. And there’s Rome at its best and worst and warmest, at its most vivid and most decadent. Sharp points throughout, about art and about politically engaged art. An unforgettable scene of suspended beauty in Bramante’s Tempietto. Parties, how Romans like their feste. And there’s Neapolitan wit, which I miss. Then a while ago I found out that the film’s main actor, Toni Servillo, is going to be next year at the Barbican, in a play I’ve also written about, Inner Voices by Neapolitan playwright Eduardo de Filippo, and I don’t know if it’s because this year I’ve returned to many Surrealist books and texts, all these coincidences begin to stir me profoundly and now I know it’s really time I finished this book. Enough for a new year’s resolution.
22 December 2013