The Great Beauty’s Paolo Sorrentino casts Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel as two old friends enjoying their twilight years at an exclusive health spa.
Fred Ballinger (Caine), a world-renowned conductor who has recently retired, is enjoying time at an exclusive health spa with his daughter Lena (Rachel Weisz) and film director friend Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel). However, he is under pressure to return to the orchestra pit to conduct a Royal anniversary performance. But for the moment, he’s content to relax with his friend, mull over the past and bemoan the ravages of age. The presence of a young actor (Paul Dano) proves an annoying diversion for the men, but it pales compared with the arrival of perennial screen star Brenda Morel (Jane Fonda), whom Mick is hoping to cast in his comeback movie. Sorrentino’s second English-language film after This Must Be the Place finds the director in a similar ruminative mode as his Oscar-winning The Great Beauty. Caine revels in one of his best lead roles of his sixth decade on the screen. And he dominates until the arrival of Fonda, playing a human whirlwind, whose few scenes finding her walking away with the film.