14A, 142 minutes
This is the story of Jep Gambardella (an outstanding Toni Servillo, of 2008's "Il Divo"), who wrote a masterpiece of a novel in his youth but has been unable to repeat the success. He's become a journalist and bon vivant, living in an incredible apartment overlooking the Colosseum. He's popular in his circle but jaded, and, having just turned 65, is starting to look at the big picture.
When news arrives of an old girlfriend's death, he continues to make the rounds of high-end gatherings and nightspots in the Eternal City, but in a "what's it all mean" frame of mind. It's an extraordinary portrait of a great city where the crushing weight of history seems to bring out the worst in many. But the film also has a bit of sympathy for its world-weary sybarites, and a goodly amount for Jep, a preening dandy who, by the film's end, has glimpsed something essential.
Walter Addiego/SF Gate