Slowly but surely, the trailers for this year’s (probable) Cannes selections are trickling in: we had “The Bling Ring” recently, “Only God Forgives” last week, “The Past” over the weekend and “Behind the Candelabra” yesterday. Today’s Cannes taster isn’t quite as eagerly anticipated, but it’s for a film that is very likely to be in Competition: Italian auteur Paolo Sorrentino’s “La Grande Bellazza.”
Sorrentino is a Cannes regular, having competed for the Palme d’Or with his last four features: “The Consequences of Love” in 2004, “The Family Friend” in 2006, “Il Divo” (for which he won the Jury Prize) in 2008 and “This Must Be the Place” in 2011. The last of these films — his English-language debut, starring Sean Penn as a Goth rocker turned Nazi hunter on a Great American Odyssey — was, unsurprisingly, his most divisive to date, but that’s unlikely to stop the Cannes selectors tapping him once more. (He still won the Ecumenical Jury prize for “Place,” after all, and it has dedicated critical champions.)
Those who couldn’t warm to his last film’s bizarro sensibility can breathe easy: “La Grande Bellazza” could hardly look like a greater departure. That said, it looks an equally long way from the kinetic “Il Divo” or his labyrinthine breakout thrillers; if anything, the trailer’s oblique, wordless but entirely gorgeous Roman tour recalls Fellini by way of Terrence Malick.
Details are relatively scarce, though we know this return to Italian-language fare stars Toni Servillo (who excelled as the lead in “Il Divo”) as an aging journalist recalling his lost youth in the Italian capital. Expect more luscious widescreen lensing from Sorrentino’s regular cinematographer Luca Bigazzi — who also did the Italian tourism board a solid in “Certified Copy” a few years ago. Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine. Still, look how pretty.