'The Great Beauty' Director Paolo Sorrentino Returning to Naples for Next Film

The Great Beauty

Italian auteur Paolo Sorrentino's latest project The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza) is about an aging journalist who looks back on his youth.


His last five feature films have all screened in competition in Cannes, though the helmer has not set one in his hometown since "Consequences of Love" in 2004.

ROME -- Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, whose Cannes in-competition selection La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty) is a brooding commentary on contemporary Rome, says he wants to shoot his next film in his native Naples because he is “starting to forget” the essence of the southern Italian metropolis.

Sorrentino, who turns 43 Friday, is at the vanguard of a new generation of acclaimed Italian auteurs: His last five feature films have all screened in completion in Cannes, with two of them taking home jury prizes. But he no longer lives in his native city -- he is based instead in Rome, where both La grande bellezza and 2008 Giulio Andreotti biopic Il Divo were based. Between the two films, he made This Must Be the Place, set mostly in the U.S. and starring Sean Penn as an aging rock star who seeks revenge against the man who damaged his deceased father’s reputation.

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Now, Sorrentino says he wants to turn his sites on his home city.

“For me, it's been very stimulating to tell stories about topics I don’t know, but now I feel it’s time to return to my city because I am starting to forget,” Sorrentino said at a presentation of La grande bellezza in Milan.

Sorrentino did direct a short segment in a 2010 documentary called Naples 24, but he has not made a film set in Naples since Le conseguenze dell’amore (The Consequences of Love) in 2004, his first Cannes Palme d’Or nominated film.

La grande bellezza, which opened in Rome on May 21, the same day it premiered in Cannes, is doing well so far. The film, which has been sold in 20 territories, earned €2.3 million ($2.9 million) in its first weekend in Italy, good for second place at the Italian box office.

Italian critics are split over the film, while The Hollywood Reporter’s Deborah Young gave it a qualified thumbs up in her Cannes review, saying the film captures the Italian capital in a “pleasingly creative way that pulls audiences in through humor and excess.”

Twitter: @EricJLyman