Irony, sexism and magic in Paolo Sorrentino’s films

Eszter Simor, David Sorfa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This article has three claims. The first is that humour and irony are indispensable elements in Sorrentino’s films. Narration is always inflected by Sorrentino’s ironic style, thus this excessive film style brings to the fore the non-transparent nature of narration. Focusing on different stylistic solutions like acting and editing I argue that Sorrentino’s film style in The Great Beauty (2013) and Youth (2015) offers the possibility of an ironic interpretation. While the representation of women in Sorrentino films remains largely trapped in the criticism of feminist film theory, my aim is to offer an alternative interpretation. The depiction of women as objects of male desire to the point of absurdity undermines sexist representation and is instead a humorous subversion. The films parody the “male sex deficit”, the simplistic view of an unbalanced relationship based on sexual desire between men and women. My final argument is that the films’ protagonists have an ironic outlook and the secondary characters are magical. I use Simon Critchley’s description of the absurd body, explaining how human beings experience an existentialist gap between being and having a body. In the director’s latest work, The Young Pope (2016), Sorrentino merges these two opposing positions in one character.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-215
Number of pages16
JournalStudies in European Cinema
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • feminism
  • sexism
  • irony
  • humour
  • Paolo Sorrentino
  • film comedy


Dive into the research topics of 'Irony, sexism and magic in Paolo Sorrentino’s films'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this