Roughly two years after his return to Naples for “The Hand of God,” Paolo Sorrentino is heading back to his hometown for a movie that plays on local mythology.
The still untitled film is about a woman named Partenope “who bears the name of her city but is neither siren nor myth,” the Oscar-winning auteur has revealed to Variety.
In Greek mythology, Parthenope, as she is known in English, is the name of a siren who having failed to entice Odysseus with her songs, cast herself into the sea and drowned. Her body washed up on a symbolic foundational rock where Naples lies. Neapolitans in Italy are also known as “Parthenopeans.”
Shooting on Sorrentino’s new film is set to start “at the end of June” and will take place in Naples and on the island of Capri.
Here is the film’s full director’s statement, which Variety has obtained exclusively:
“The life of Partenope, who bears the name of her city, but is neither siren nor myth. From her birth in 1950 [up until] today,” says Sorrentino introducing the story.
“Her long life embodies the full repertoire of human existence: youth’s lightheartedness and its demise, classical beauty and its inexorable permutations, pointless and impossible loves, stale flirtations and dizzying passion, night-time kisses on Capri, flashes of joy and persistent suffering, real and invented fathers, endings, and new beginnings,” he adds.
“Together with a host of other characters: men and women observed and loved, their waves of melancholy and disappointment, their impatience and despair, their anguish at never again laughing at an elegant man who trips and falls on a city street,” Sorrentino goes on to note.
“All of this is accompanied by the passage of time, that most faithful of boyfriends,” the director says.
“And by Naples, who charms and enchants, who shouts and laughs, and who knows just how to hurt you,” Sorrentino concludes.
The main cast of Sorrentino’s new film – with no indications provided of who plays what role – comprises Luisa Ranieri, who played the emotionally troubled aunt Patrizia in “The Hand of God”; Silvio Orlando, who played Cardinal Voiello in “The Young Pope”; Stefania Sandrelli, who was Bernardo Bertolucci’s muse and has starred in a slew of Italian films of various sorts; Isabella Ferrari (“The Great Beauty”); Peppe Lanzetta (“Spectre”); Alfonso Santagata (Matteo Garrone’s “Gomorrah”); Lorenzo Gleijeses (“Baby”); Silvia Degrandi (“Doc,” “Petra”); and newcomer Celeste Dalla Porta.
Sorrentino’s new work will mark his 10th feature.
The auteur began his career with the Naples-set “L’uomo in Più” (“One Man Up”), a dual plot line drama in which Toni Servillo plays an ageing crooner. Servillo then became the helmer’s male muse, also starring among other titles in “The Consequences of Love,” (2004) and “Il Divo” (2008) and Sorrentino’s 2013 International Oscar-winner “The Great Beaty,” a love letter to Rome in which Servillo plays a novelist-journalist with writers’ block on a Dantesque descent amid the Eternal City’s grotesque glitterati and the country’s malaise and cultural impasse.
His new film, to put it simply, appears to be a love letter to Naples with a female protagonist.
Following Sorrentino’s foray into TV series with Sky and HBO’s “The Young Pope” and “The New Pope,” which made an international splash, the prolific director was on the verge of making his first Hollywood movie, but the pandemic got in the way. “The Hand of God,” a Netflix film released in November 2021, won two prizes at Venice bolstering Sorrentino’s status as Italy’s most bankable director.
His untitled upcoming movie, which is written and directed by Sorrentino, is a Fremantle film being produced by Lorenzo Mieli for Fremantle-backed The Apartment; Anthony Vaccarello for Saint Laurent; Sorrentino for Numero 10; and Ardavan Safaee for Pathé, which will release the film in France. Italian distribution is still being decided.
Sales of Sorrentino’s new film will be handled by UTA and Fremantle.