New Books Network

Russell J. A. Kilbourn

The Cinema of Paolo Sorrentino

Commitment to Style

Wallflower Press 2020

New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in BiographyNew Books in European StudiesNew Books in FilmNew Books in Italian StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network August 4, 2020 Nicoletta Marini-Maio

Russell J. A. Kilbourn’s The Cinema of Paolo Sorrentino: Commitment to Style (Wallflower Press, 2020) is the first comprehensive study published in the English-speaking...

Russell J. A. Kilbourn’s The Cinema of Paolo Sorrentino: Commitment to Style (Wallflower Press, 2020) is the first comprehensive study published in the English-speaking world on one of the most compelling figures in twenty-first century European film, Italian 2014 Academy Award recipient Paolo Sorrentino. Kilbourn’s book offers close readings of Sorrentino’s cinema in eight dense and elegantly written chapters and one coda: from the filmmaker’s first feature One Man Up, to The Consequences of Love, The Family Friend, Il Divo, This Must Be the Place, The Great Beauty, Youth, and the TV series The Young Pope, produced by HBO. The coda discusses the biopic on Silvio Berlusconi Loro (Them), which came out in 2018. While contextualizing Sorrentino within the legacy of Italian cinema tradition, Kilbourn establishes meaningful connections with international filmmakers (from Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing to Mary’s Harron’s American Psycho, among many others), literary texts (such as Primo Levi’s If This is a Man), and artistic works (such as Magritte’s surrealist paintings), showing how Sorrentino is “an exemplary twenty-first-century transnational filmmaker” and “an emergent auteur for the twenty-first century.” His definition of Sorrentino’s cinema as “commitment to style” summarizes his critical perspective on a filmmaker, who, Kilbourn argues, brings to life Godard’s famous statement that “the problem is not to make political films but to make films politically.”

Russell J. A. Kilbourn is Professor of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Lauriel University. His books include Cinema, Memory, Modernity: The Representation of Memory from the Art Film to Transnational Cinema (2010) and W.G. Sebald’s Postsecular Redemption: Catastrophe with Spectator (2018)


Nicoletta Marini-Maio is co-founder and editor of g/s/i-gender/sexuality/italy. Recent scholarly publications center on Italian cinema, particularly the intersections between politics, gender power relations, and collective memory; and auteur cinema. Her current book project is La nazione Winx: coltivare la future consumista/Winx Nation: Grooming the Future Female Consumer, a collaboration with Ellen Nerenberg (forthcoming, Rubbettino, Italy).