Italian writer-director Paolo Sorrentino drew widespread praise for his visually striking, complex dramas, which included such festival favorites as "The Family Friend" (2006), "Il Divo" (2008) and "The Great Beauty" ... Read more »
Italian writer-director Paolo Sorrentino drew widespread praise for his visually striking, complex dramas, which included such festival favorites as "The Family Friend" (2006), "Il Divo" (2008) and "The Great Beauty" (2013). Sorrentino's work drew comparisons to such legendary filmmakers as Federico Fellini and Michelangelo Antonioni for its focus on changing identities at both the personal level, as embodied by the state of flux experienced by their lead figures, and on a national scope through explorations of Italy's past and present. Sorrentino rose quickly from European favorite with "Consequences of Love" (2004), which starred his frequent collaborator, Toni Servillo, to international acclaim with "Il Divo" (2008), a glossy examination of real-life Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti's controversial career. After making his first English-language feature with "This Must Be the Place" (2011), an eccentric comedy-drama with Sean Penn, Sorrentino earned some of his best reviews for "The Great Beauty" (2013), which reflected on the twilight years of a novelist (Servillo) and his beloved Rome. Paolo Sorrentino's best work offered arthouse cinema at its most visually and emotionally engaging, as well as the promise of greatness to come.
Born May 31, 1970, Paolo Sorrentino was raised along with his older brother and sister in an apartment in Naples. He turned to film after losing interest in his initial passion - economics - and began writing and directing several short films before making his feature debut with "One Man Up" (2001), about a pair of faded public figures who share the same name. The film earned Sorrentino the Nastro d'Argento for Best New Director, and established him as an important new voice in Italian film. His sophomore effort, the thriller-drama "Consequences of Love," brought him not only a Palme d'Or nomination from the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, but his first recognition from international audiences. Two years later, he offered the flip side perspective of his previous film: while "Consequences" concerned an aging, love-struck businessman, "The Family Friend" (2006) focused on an elderly and unlovable loan shark who lusts after a beautiful young woman.
Sorrentino took a bold stance with his next feature, "Il Divo" (2008), which presented an unauthorized biographical portrait of Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, whose long reign was marred by various murders and connections to the Mafia. The film won the Jury Prize at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and received an Oscar nomination for Best Makeup and Hairstyling that same year. Sorrentino made his English-language debut in 2011 with "This Must Be The Place," an unusual drama about a former rock star (Sean Penn) who embarks on a hunt for the Nazi war criminal who terrorized his father while imprisoned in Auschwitz. Penn's performance as the obsessed, makeup-bedecked rocker earned critical praise, but the film earned mixed reviews from critics. Sorrentino rebounded in 2013 with "The Great Beauty," a elegiac look at Rome's past from the perspective of an aging writer reviewing his life and accomplishments. The picture topped numerous international critics' lists for best films of the year and took home Italy's first Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film in a quarter-century. That same year, it was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar.