b. 31 May, 1970, Naples, Campania, Italy

The comparisons to Federico Fellini may be seen as both a blessing and a curse for Paolo Sorrentino. On one hand, the lofty likening to one of world cinema’s grand masters surely testifies to the quality of Sorrentino’s own work. And indeed, the two Italian auteurs do share numerous narrative and thematic affinities linking their films as imposing views of existential contemplation. At the same time, though, the all but inevitable nods to Fellini, which accompany most critical considerations of Sorrentino, depreciate his individually rightful place as a modern purveyor of contemporary socio-political conditions and overshadow his uniquely realized, deeply-felt depictions of universally complex humanity. 

Still, one cannot deny the Fellini reverberations that echo throughout Sorrentino’s filmography, and Sorrentino has himself given due credit to the maestro’s influence on his work. Calling Fellini “a beacon in the night,”1 Sorrentino openly asserts his appreciation for the director of such films as La Dolce Vita and 8 ½, acknowledging his admiration, indebtedness, and, speaking specifically of his most recent film, The Hand of God, commenting that Felliniesque parallels “may have entered into my movie through the backdoor without me even realizing that.” But, he adds, “I did deliberately try to do my best not to imitate him, even though I might not have succeeded in that.”2

In this autobiographical 2021 film, which recalls Fellini’s Amarcord most of all, Sorrentino implicitly tells of his mercurial adolescence: his family, his sexual awakening, his joys and sorrows, and his life-altering cultural milieu. Fabietto, played by Filippo Scotti, is the ostensible Sorrentino stand-in, making his way through 1980s Naples, which, like Rome in Fellini’s work as well as Sorrentino’s, is a setting imbued with a pronounced vitality that informs the ensemble personalities, the visual shape of the picture, and the generally episodic headway. The growing pains of this young man, existing within a traditional family consortium and engaging in relatively run-of-the-mill relationships, may appear quite banal compared to the lives seen in preceding Sorrentino films, and the movie is itself more naturalistic with less formal embellishment. But this is for good reason. “Every movie dictates to you how to shoot it,” Sorrentino stated. “So, the movies I did before, I was sure that the right way to shoot that kind of movie was the way that I used. In this case, the simplicity of the story, the reality of the family, and the honest feelings of that character imposed a very simple style, something that was unusual for me.” It was the first time, Sorrentino mused, that he did a movie “without thinking about the style of the mise en scène.” It was something he was not used to doing, but contends “this was the right movie to try to do something different on.”3

In any event, the commonplace humour of the picture and its warm familiarity is comforting and humble, and Sorrentino expertly evokes a striking, spontaneous simplicity. And while Fellini does have a literal off-screen presence in the picture, placed on a regional pedestal alongside beloved soccer icon Maradona, The Hand of God is a more insular portrait of tragedy and passion, delivered with genuine, relatable authenticity. As it deals with Sorrentino’s teenage grief after the death of his parents, followed by his private recourse, it is also an insightful, subjective tribute to what made the man and informed his cinema. Conceived of a decade before he finally began filming, The Hand of God emphasizes not only Sorrentino’s personal evolution and individual temperament, but once again affirms the key, regularly interwoven components of his entire corpus. “It’s true,” he observed, “loneliness and melancholy are two traits of mine that I tend to put in my characters as well.”4 

Born May 31, 1970, Sorrentino lost his parents at the age of 16, but the despair did little to thwart his budding ambitions. As he grew older, he worked in television and saw his first screenplay, Polvere di Napoli, produced in 1998. He directed the short films Un paradiso (1994) and Love Has No Bounds (1998) and his feature-length debut, One Man Up (L’uomo in più), was released in 2001. Here, Sorrentino was already focusing on public figures in spheres of entertainment or social prominence; in this case, it is a disgraced pop singer played by Toni Servillo and a hampered soccer star played by Andrea Renzi. As would be the case in Sorrentino’s succeeding features, these are individuals who have reached a staggering point of inner rumination and re-evaluation. Although a film like One Man Up displays only modest moments of stylistic virtuosity, scarcely signalling the aesthetic for which Sorrentino would later be identified, there exists the same consistent depictions of poignant misfortune and atmospheric engagement, delivering settings rife with drugs and sex, which are indicative of, if not necessarily prompting, a downward character trajectory. Singular and yet connected by unifying despair, the past lives of these two men catch up to their present station, their paths twisting and turning as they grapple with an existence spiralling beyond their grasp. Set in the day-glow 1980s, One Man Up was a promising introduction to Sorrentino’s interpretation of individual undoing, deliberation, and redemption. 

One Man Up

This pattern continued with The Consequences of Love, Sorrentino’s 2004 follow-up. Again, there is a middle-aged protagonist disenchanted with life, and again, there is Toni Servillo in the lead, now playing Titta Di Girolamo, a cautious, introverted man who has been holed up in the same Swiss hotel for eight years. His behaviour, like his livelihood, is furtive and enigmatic. Though his inward considerations are partially revealed via observant voiceovers, providing revelations of his personality otherwise restricted behind a surface veneer of detachment, he remains disconnected, literally (often shielded behind planes of glass) and figuratively. Just as Titta is something a mystery to those around him—“You’d make a wonderful poker player,” says the inquisitive hotel manager—the film itself discloses only fragmentary glimpses of an unconventional life that includes Titta’s heroin use (in moderation but habitually for years, always at a certain time, on a certain day), hints of an estranged family, his voyeurism, and his debilitating bouts of insomnia. He is a character defined by what Sorrentino likens to a “tabula rasa,” where little is overtly established while much remains open to interpretation, and, according to author Russell J. A. Kilbourn, the picture adopts a corresponding form: “The highly elliptical narrative allows Sorrentino to maintain tight control over the story, dispersing diegetic information in a judicious manner—in a sense tricking the viewer into believing that they know as much as the protagonist when in fact he holds all the cards and certain key events are only revealed late in the film, when it is narratively auspicious.”5 

The Consequences of Love

Inspired by his time spent in hotels while taking One Man Up on the festival circuit, Sorrentino dramatizes scenes in a way that is at once impassive and elegant, dynamic and random. Following a significant, albeit hesitant step forward in terms prospective romance, the reasons for Titta’s stagnant predicament are also divulged, involving a mob debt that has left him isolated and obligated. Embodying (not for the last time) Sorrentino’s preoccupations with life, death, and maturation, Servillo’s aloof delivery complements the overriding tone of The Consequences of Love, which captures the casual absurdities and inscrutable occurrences of everyday life in cool, calculated camera manoeuvres, where moments of almost serene softness contrast with energetic bursts of movement as Sorrentino’s brisk camera seems at times to traverse of its own accord.

The Family Friend

Every bit as mysterious as the lead of The Consequences of Love, Giacomo Rizzo’s Geremia De Geremei, in 2006’s The Family Friend, is more abrasive and morally ambiguous, and the film equally revels in the surreptitious placement and enactment of scenes and interactions which appear, initially, entirely disjointed from any predominant narrative. Out of place and outwardly ridiculous images like a nun buried to her head on a beach in the opening of the picture are then followed by numerous snap shots of unrelated curiosity (a stylish, slow-motion volleyball match, beauty pageants, line dancing, etc.), all eventually aligned within the orbit of central character Geremia, a repellent money lender of ruthless scruples. Rizzo, who according to Sorrentino failed to understand the nuances of his off-putting character, at least at first, gives a fascinating performance, humorous and loathly, awkwardly struggling with interpersonal communication. While there are refined swells of visual momentum, The Family Friend was, in the words of Kilbourne, “edited so as to carefully manage spectatorial knowledge at any given point, ironically pinning the viewer’s perspective to Geremia’s throughout in a textbook case of alignment over allegiance.”6 Geremia’s dubious methods and his pointedly acerbic philosophy yield a volatile tension concerning his motives, often resulting in tonally oscillating impulses and responses—from him, from others, and from the viewer. And yet, as he would often do, Sorrentino manages to somehow uncover the touching heart of this otherwise appalling character, particularly as he faces his own personal tribulations.

Il Divo

Working for the second time with henceforth stalwart cinematographer Luca Bigazzi (his routine collaborator until The Hand of God), Sorrentino stressed the need for The Family Friend to be “visually appealing and carefully put together,” banking on the “wonderful alchemy” achieved with Bigazzi. Nodding to what became standard Sorrentino attributes, he also implements music as a “special effect,” more than mere aural backdrop, and, significantly, he starts with a fundamental character and from there builds on his or her persona, “[inventing] the stories” along the way and honing in on these “people oppressed by sadness.”7 “Melancholy and loneliness stimulate the imagination and fantasy,” affirmed Sorrentino, stressing a dominant thematic throughline of his filmography. “Moreover,” he added later, on the same topic, “they’re universal feelings that we all have to reckon with sooner or later.” Noting how “melancholy, nostalgia, and the relationship with solitude” traverse his work, he comments on his interest in “characters more than anything else; in real life, and therefore in films. These people who intrigue, fascinate or disgust me, may be Italian and therefore representative, albeit partially, of Italian society, and sometimes symbolic of it. …”8 

The Hand of God

To this end, Sorrentino’s Oscar-winning 2013 film, The Great Beauty, was an ideal vehicle in which Sorrentino could explore “characters who are caught at the moment of their decline” and “tend to develop a melancholic outlook.”9 A sumptuous, visually dazzling ode to the high life of Rome’s upper echelon, The Great Beauty again stars Toni Servillo, this time as weary figurehead Jep Gambardella, a once successful writer who has since settled into a lavish, sedentary aftermath of emptiness and gawdy glory. “All of Sorrentino’s characters, not only his heroes, share the same purpose,” argues Mimmo Cagiano, “to present their own identity as a self-contained entity that allows them to interpret reality correctly.”10 As such, The Great Beauty largely unfolds in the reflective mind’s eye of Jep, whose cultural vantage positions him in a privileged place where he can contemplate everything from contemporary Italian culture to ancient Roman history. Wallowing in his solitude and cynicism, Jep says he is a “sensitive type,” reflecting on his past, his ambitions, and his long-ago loves, and these ponderings provide for personal liberation and brutal honesty, at times cutting through the vanity and pretence of his surroundings and social circle. The film, too, is a clash of excess and sombre meditation. It is a world of cell phone selfies and all-night dance soirees, balanced in striking disparity with towering statuary and grand, historic arenas, just as the shallow allure of Rome’s picturesque personalities diverges from the depiction of what Kilbourn terms “non-normative identities, bodies, and faces.”11 This latter juxtaposition, a Sorrentino standard (just as it was for Fellini), has resulted in sporadic criticism, which questions the use of attractive, typically one-dimensional women compared to others who appear to simply represent the unambiguously superficial contrary in terms of feigning physical perfection. Although the presence of this apposition is undeniable, however, one would be hard-pressed to derive any malicious intent. 

The Great Beauty

All the same, Sorrentino finds, through Jep, transcendent moments of ecstasy, encountered in everything from a smattering of paint haphazardly applied as part of a performance piece, to the near-spiritual overcoming of grief. “You’ve changed,” says Jep’s editor, who sees in him, just as we do, a profound shift in disposition and outlook. “You’re always thinking.” “What I find compelling,” Sorrentino stated, attesting to such a favoured personality swing, “is the moment in which people realize, with suffering and pain, that in the past there was a time when they were happy, because back then the present and the future coincided—they were one and the same thing. Whereas, at an adult age, the future is the future and the present is the present and they do not coincide. So they feel a subtle, deep-rooted, and unconscious suffering connected to this adult age.”12 

In this remark, Sorrentino could also well have been speaking of his 2015 feature, Youth, which, with The Great Beauty, forms something of a thematic and formal duet. In this picture, Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel star as two aging friends: Fred Ballinger, a retired conductor, and Mick Boyle, a struggling filmmaker. Joined by Paul Dano, Rachel Weisz, and Jane Fonda, they come to terms with their past transgressions and current postings in life, while a luxury resort in Switzerland serves as a tranquil backdrop populated with assorted other characters who represent their own transitional fields of relevance and presence. As the two men share their perspectives on love and success, approaching life with a seasoned poignancy reflecting and benefitting from their age, the title of the picture appears rather ironic. But youth, in this case, is also a state of mind, one in which an understated aimlessness remains. To achieve this, Sorrentino banks on sedate, quietly expressive performances, evoking the travails of tested and true friendship, occupational purpose, and romantic reckoning. His simultaneously tempered style is, as usual, sophisticated and resolute, capturing tender moments of keen reflection and revelation alongside quirky, peripheral incidents like a levitating monk and the disarming image of Hitler (Dano’s actor character in disguise) as he casually dines among the guests.


By this point in his career, the style of Sorrentino’s work had become one of the distinguishing features of his filmography. With images that are jarring, odd, and almost always striking to behold, he continually enhances even the most mundane of sequences with superlative pageantry. “Maybe it was something that I read when I was very young,” Sorrentino commented, alluding to a novel by Jean-Paul Sartre, “that the man needs to be shocked. I was pretty sure that it was a good idea to try to shock an audience. And my way of shocking an audience was not to be provocative or to shock them out of ethical reasons, but it was through a mise en scène that tried to put together things very distant from each other, like grandiosity and vulgarity, like beauty and sadness.”13 Lest one think of his films as style over substance, however, Cangiano observes that the “search for an identity is ultimately what allows Sorrentino’s characters to overcome the superficiality and frivolousness of an existence without any goals.” “Only when the character gain her/his own identity,” he adds, “life and reality itself become meaningful, and only then, reality stops being a fluid heap of unrelated facts … and turns into something that can be interpreted and judged.”14 

To this end, both facts and identity are schematized and upended in Il Divo, Sorrentino’s 2008 film about controversial former Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti. Played by Servillo, this Andreotti is a complicated catalyst, the source and victim of a vast web of social and political contrivance and subject to a rash of violence and rampant conspiracy. Il Divo is also a tale of individual resilience in the face of perpetual turmoil, where shady indiscretions and associated vehemence land subsequent blame at Andreotti’s feet, likely for good reason. More than any of his films to this point, Il Divo is hyper-stylized and a great deal of fun, particularly in the way Sorrentino handles the pop politics and Andreotti’s motley crew of associates, many of whom take on degrees of Fellinesque caricature (“Wars are fought with the troops available,” a beleaguered Andreotti comments). Here one sees Sorrentino’s exceptional ability to delve into a character’s interior being by orchestrating single shots and sequences laden with surface stoicism and behind-the-scenes intrigue; the vigorous picture seems at comical odds with Servillo’s rigid posture and demeanour. As waves of scandal envelope all involved, Il Divo canvases a seemingly infinite entanglement of themes concerning prestige and honour, criminal and political power, and the inimitably Roman confluence of such institutions as the Mafia and the Catholic church. Coalescing with amusingly amplified tautness, and profiting from some obvious, if necessary, creative liberty, Sorrentino’s intricate biographical picture hinges on a subject—and subject matter—that is prolific and prolonged but inevitability unsustainable.

Like The Great Beauty and Youth, Il Divo would be joined ten years later by its own companion piece, another biographical film (unauthorized, to say the least) about another intensely provocative public figure. Loro (2018), about media mogul and politician Silvio Berlusconi (again played by Servillo, but with far more gusto than his Andreotti), is a kinetic, over-the-top overlap of sex and drugs and political fervour, a frenetic, fast-paced, and delirious descent into decadence and sinful aesthetic excess. The domain of Berlusconi, which overwhelms all who enter it, is constructed upon deception and ambition, showcasing beautiful people and beautiful places, but, at the same time, admitting the seedy underbelly of obsessive desire personified by Servillo in this powerhouse turn. Sorrentino mostly maintains his observational, impassive digressions, and while the film’s structure is uneven, like some of its performances, the more inflated sections of the picture eventually settle enough to explore its central character beyond the political plotting, musical interludes, and exorbitant tonal variability. Sorrentino appeared to acknowledge the occasionally disproportionate flamboyance of Loro, noting how in 2006 and 2009 Berlusconi, “while dangerous, was something of a novelty.” People—all sorts of unsavoury people (as the film surely shows)—gravitated around him. “It was a crazy period of time when the rules didn’t apply anymore,” Sorrentino adds. “And it was a time of vulgarity but also sensuality. For a filmmaker like me, who is interested in this kind of imagery, it was hard to resist. I was like a glutton in a pastry shop.”15 


Corruption, desperation, depravity, opulence, and boundless womanizing: Loro is a mélange of fabricated scenarios and real-life foundations. “Like any fictional interpretation of stories,” Sorrentino noted, “it’s a mixture. The starting point is reality, of course. And we tried to be as believable and have as much similar to the truth as possible. But of course, we insert our own elements of imagination.” Interestingly, although Sorrentino says he did not intend to “humanize Berlusconi,”16 he comes awfully close. For all its embellished(?) wantonness, there are passages of trademark Sorrentino consideration, touching scenes of apparent self-reflection. “Being vulgar can be about dishonesty or cruelty but to me, it can also be beautiful,” states Sorrentino, perhaps countering the aforementioned statement, “especially when there are hidden feelings behind it. I wanted to show the emotions behind the desperation of being young; the inadequacy of being beautiful. As long as feelings are also being represented, there is no vulgarity.”17

This Must Be the Place

Beyond the bounds of historical reconstruction, however tenuous and inflated they may be, there is Sorrentino’s This Must Be the Place, his wildly inventive 2011 film starring a heavily manufactured Sean Penn as the peculiar retired rock star, Cheyenne. From his hideaway in Dublin to his excursion in the United States, Cheyenne, like the film itself, is eccentric in nearly every sense, in nearly every scene, beginning, most notably, with Penn’s performance, which is a mesmerizing blend of soft-spoken reserve, plaintive depression, mournful boredom, and, in the end, existential fascination. According to his infinitely sympathetic and patient wife (Frances McDormand), Cheyenne is essentially longing for a purpose and, as a recourse, he finds the impetus for an intercontinental sojourn in the horrors endured by his father during World War II. Despite the heavy Holocaust themes of the picture and Cheyenne’s hunting of a Nazi war criminal residing in America, This Must Be the Place is Sorrentino’s most hysterical picture. Carried forth by a controlled, steady pace, the film has its allotment of powerfully emotional passages and subtle gestures of heartfelt meaning, but thanks largely to Penn’s laconic delivery and deadpan reactions (“Something’s not quite right here,” he says with decided dryness), as well as Sorrentino’s acute realization of remarkably unremarkable idiosyncrasies, the picture is utterly unpredictable, surprisingly joyous, and, quite often, very funny. “I believe that a sense of humour is vital to deal with everything,” remarked Sorrentino. “It is the best way to get away from heaviness and to reconnect with light-heartedness. And it is a formidable tool to focus on people’s characteristics and unveil their secrets, and get in touch with truth and beauty.”18 Featuring Talking Heads front man David Byrne in a cameo role, and benefitting immensely from his music (from which the film gets its name), This Must Be the Place is an entertaining, discerning, and melancholic look at Sorrentino’s customary concerns of desolation, recovery, and hope. 

Like several of his contemporaries, Paolo Sorrentino has never shied away from working beyond the feature-length, narrative motion picture. Having directed short films, videos, and documentaries, Sorrentino is hardly one to dismiss other forms of media, and this, of course, includes television. Working with Netflix to produce and release The Hand of God, Sorrentino rebuked those who saw such a collaboration as detrimental to a distinguished vision of theatrical cinema. “Movies are movies,” he commented, “you might make different choices at times, but at the end of the day it’s always the same dynamics. I don’t think that process has changed much.”19 Likewise, there is his association with HBO, for which he wrote and directed the 10-episode 2016 series The Young Pope and its sequel, the nine-episode The New Pope, from 2020. While Sorrentino denies that television is replacing cinema, he also argues that “nowadays a TV series makes it possible to create a work of art, which the cinema doesn’t anymore. What used to be authorial cinema in the old days, nowadays you can do that on TV. Anyhow I consider any cinematographic fruition to be cinema.”20 

The New Pope

The Young Pope

If the private and public lives of Giulio Andreotti and Silvio Berlusconi were naturally contentious and, in many ways, problematic, neither compare with the secretive, inaccessible realm of the Vatican and its most famous resident. When initially approached to make a film about a real-life figure, Sorrentino opted for a fabricated, symbolic gateway to scandal, topicality, and, along the way, the nature of religion itself (costly and thorny productions, The Young Pope and its successor received, unsurprisingly, no cooperation from the Catholic church). He viewed his pontiff as an “alter ego” to Pope Francis, a “head of the church who is so deeply invested in a positive relationship with the people and with large crowds.” Instead, here was a man “deeply tied to the traditions and the ancestral rituals of the Roman Catholic church.”21 Here, then, is Pope Lenny Belardo, played by Jude Law, an orphan who becomes the first American pope. He also, in the words of Stephanie Eckardt, “happens to be a close-minded megalomaniac.”22 Belardo’s reactionary conduct, assessed against his papal presence and position of power, solidifies much of The Young Pope as a conduit for his personal proclivities and points of view. Certainly, there is an engaging assortment of surrounding characters, many of them quite vital to the series, but Law’s commanding identification results in an occupying bond, regardless of his shocking declarations, curtness, and audacious philosophical musings; his shock-to-the-system conduct is among the series’ most disarming and stimulating aspects. By contrast, there is John Malkovich as the more conventional John Brannox, pegged to replace Belardo after the latter is left comatose following the first season of The Young Pope. For this new pope, Sorrentino found Malkovich “perfect to represent the idea of wisdom, dark, and mysterious charm that the character must have.”23

In both shows, with both popes, there is the recurrent regarding of a troubled past and an uncertain future, incentives amplified by a prominent place in the world bound by responsibility and tradition yet still enduring singular loss, fulfilment, and precipitous ambition. And, all the while, these popes are vessels for the faithful, allowing for a multitude of contradictions and complexities as they attempt to fulfil their newfound destinies. From the surreal dream opening of The Young Pope to the techno-neon credits of The New Pope, and with all the embossed pomp, stylized ritual, and mannered performances in between, this composite series is a self-conscious testament to Sorrentino’s broader modus operandi. United by a necessary formal rigor owing to its sanctified ambiance, the series is grounded in the strict significance, the weight, of its holy context, but it is also showy and nuanced, its tone regularly off-beat, thwarting simplistic assumptions based on ulterior motives and deceptive conduct. The resulting volatility is delicate and edgy, motivated by precarious relationships, nascent animosity, and a wide swath of outlying characters who work their way into a combustible upsetting of norms. The volley of a despairing devotion to institution and a revolutionary savvy (expressly acknowledged by Belardo’s knowing wink during The New Pope’s opening credits) threaten a stability already shaken by scandals and interpersonal obstructions. 

The Vatican of the young and new pope, respectively and entwined as they are, is thus a befitting house for what Sorrentino has so often surveyed. “I’m fascinated by power relations among people,” he stated. “The Catholic Church, state powers and the Mafia are worlds where power relations are extremely important and are at their most extreme. [But] I could also make a movie about a doctor and his patient – that is an equally fascinating power dynamic.”24 Similarly, the series is a prime showcase for the director’s canny production design, his attention to scenic detail, and his orchestration of a wandering camera and majestic tableaus. It is a synthesis of complementary and incongruous music, surreal and satirical touches, and slow-paced passages of perceptive obsession and piety.

As seen in this HBO series and throughout Paolo Sorrentino’s career, the amalgamated qualities of his ample vision can sometimes approach a baroque extravagance, which frequently skews settings in accordance to a character’s point of view. As Jep casually and cynically strolls through the Eternal City, for example, or as Cheyenne ambles through the strange land of outcast America, Sorrentino is, for Kilbourn, “directing the viewer’s attention in ways that had nothing to the story but augment tremendously the viewer’s appreciation of character, theme, and atmosphere.”25 To be sure, as Kilbourn adds, all of his films since Consequences of Love “feature individual shots or whole scenes that may or may not further the narrative but whose sheer beauty arrests the eye.”26 This manifest quality is not lost on Sorrentino himself, who reflects on how he plans such shots “at home, before shooting the film.” “I prepare them twice,” he states, “first, after reading the screenplay, solely in relation to the story; second, after doing the location scouts, which give me more precise, detailed visual elements for creating a scene. I rarely improvise on the set, and only if I have a brilliant idea.”27 This method has been resoundingly effective, imbuing the best of Sorrentino’s work with a pictorial brilliance that is arresting in its own right while never failing to prevail as a representative emblem of the given film’s thematic crux, its plot, and/or the inner revelations of its central protagonist. “A single shot, if well-thought out and balanced, can enthrall and say more than ten pages of dialogue,”28 Sorrentino says. That’s why, he also contends, “shots can’t be left to chance or delegated to others. Because it’s my job to make the film communicate and, God willing, to enthrall the audience.”29 

Select Filmography

  • The Hand of God (2021), also writer
  • The New Pope (2019-2020), TV mini-series, also writer
  • Loro (2018), also writer
  • The Young Pope (2016), TV mini-series, also writer
  • Youth (2015), also writer
  • The Great Beauty (2013), also writer
  • This Must Be the Place (2011), also writer
  • Il Divo (2008), also writer
  • The Family Friend (2006), also writer
  • The Consequences of Love (2004), also writer
  • One Man Up (2001), also writer

Select Bibliography

  • Kilbourn, Russell, J.A., The Cinema of Paolo Sorrentino: Commitment to Style (New York: Wallflower, 2020).
  • Mariani, Annachiara, ed., Paolo Sorrentino’s Cinema and Television (Bristol, UK/Chicago: Intellect, 2021)


  1. Paolo Sorrentino, The Great Beauty, Criterion Collection, Blu-ray, 2014
  2. Joshua Encinias, Paolo Sorrentino & Filippo Scotti on Federico Fellini, Diego Maradona, and the Therapeutic Journey of The Hand of God, The Film Stage, 2021
  3. Isaac Feldberg, Paolo Sorrentino On ‘The Hand of God,’ Oscar Glory & Recreating 1980s Naples, The Playlist, 2022
  4. Steve Rose, Paolo Sorrentino: ‘Let’s say that almost everything is true’, The Guardian, 2021
  5. Kilbourn, Russell, J.A., The Cinema of Paolo Sorrentino: Commitment to Style (New York: Wallflower, 2020), p. 13
  6. Kilbourn, p. 31
  7. Paolo Sorrentino, The Family Friend, Artificial Eye, DVD, 2007
  8. Emanuel Levy, Il Divo: Interview with Director Paolo Sorrentino, Emanuel Levy, 2008
  9. Mariani, Annachiara, ed., Paolo Sorrentino’s Cinema and Television (Bristol, UK/Chicago: Intellect, 2021), p. xvii
  10. Mariani, p. 26
  11. Kilbourn, p. 34
  12. David Gregory Lawson, Interview: Paolo Sorrentino, Film Comment, 2013
  13. The Playlist, 2022
  14. Mariani, p. 24
  15. Bilge Ebiri, Paolo Sorrentino Explains Loro’s Absurd Sheep Death Scene, Vulture, 2019
  16. Mark Olsen, Paolo Sorrentino on ‘Loro,’ Silvio Berlusconi and the art of the sensual party, Los Angeles Times, 2019
  17. Joseph Walsh, Paolo Sorrentino: ‘It’s not worth making films about politicians’, Time Out, 2019
  18. Film Comment, 2013
  19. Francesco Pascuzzi, Interview: In ‘The Hand of God,’ Paolo Sorrentino shines a light on his past to discover who he is now, AwardsWatch, 2022
  20. Alain Elkann, Paolo Sorrentino, Alain Elkann Interviews, 2017
  21. Interview: Paolo Sorrentino on his “imaginary and improbable Pope”, ShowMax Stories, 2017
  22. Stephanie Eckardt, An Audience in Rome With The Young Pope Creator Paolo Sorrentino, the Vatican’s Uninvited Prankster, W Magazine, 2017
  23. Miles Surrey, Q&A: ‘The New Pope’ Creator Paolo Sorrentino on the End of the Series, a Potential Third Season, and Jude Law’s Swimwear, The Ringer, 2020
  24. Time Out, 2019
  25. Kilbourn, p. 95
  26. Ibid., p. 107
  27. Emanuel Levy, 2008
  28. Kenneth Turan, Movie Review: ‘The Great Beauty’ is a stunning look at life, love in Rome, The Providence Journal, 2013
  29. Emanuel Levy, 2008

About The Author

Jeremy Carr is a faculty associate at Arizona State University and a visiting research fellow with the ASU Center for Film, Media and Popular Culture. He has written for Cineaste, Film International, CineAction, Cinema Retro, MUBI’s Notebook, Vague Visages, Movie Mezzanine, Cut Print Film, Bright Lights Film Journal, and The Moving Image.

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