[Update: the film has now also won Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards]
What can I say, this is not the real Roman life as far as I can tell.
The city is sumptuously shot, Toni Servillo is a great actor, but it is somewhat upsetting the way some Italian filmmakers (from Commedia all’italiana onwards) only magnify what is wrong and are silent on all that is good. I can understand the debauched to be more in the news than the sound. But this is cinema, not journalism.
Some Italians (not only journalists and filmmakers) do not seem to care about the side effects of always displaying degradation.
Toni Servillo, Sorrentino’s muse, when asked at a Cannes Press conference – I learn from the Guardian – whether “he was not fearful for the audience’s health, sitting there, soaking it up”, replied: “Art must be daring”.
Therefore I for once agree with the German Der Spiegel that gently observes – by quoting Thomas Mann – how from such visual opulence only sheer merde comes out (“Und was kommt dabei heraus? Die reine Scheiße!”).
One last thing. All this aping of Fellini … I like Sorrentino when he is himself. His Fellini-ness is artificial (and originated by sheer calculation).
See part 2: