Paolo Sorrentino makes eye-bath films. His lustrous visual swooning began to intensify, I feel, with 2013’s The Great Beauty, and was fully maintained in Youth, Loro and The Hand of God.

But there’s a limit to this kind of spell-weaving, and Sorrentino’s Parthenope, which I saw late last night, is exhibit #1.

Two actresses portray the title role, young Celeste Dalla Porta and the considerably older Stefania Sandrelli. But it’s mainly Della Porta’s show as the film is mostly about a series of guys (Italians of all ages plus Gary Oldman‘s John Cheever) staring longingly and hungrily at her.

I was feeling profoundly bored within 30 minutes, and had decided to bail by the one-hour mark if things didn’t improve. I wound up lasting 90 minutes.

If you’ve ever felt humbled or blown away by a woman’s beauty (we’ve all been there), the way to play it is to not stare at her like she’s a bright red apple and you haven’t eaten in three days. The way to play it is the young Warren Beatty way — one, express more interest in her personality and especially her mind than her looks, and two, behave as if you’re the beautiful one.

In the wake of David Fincher‘s Mank, why did Sorrentino want Oldman to play another soused writer whose literary prowess is quite formidable? After watching Mank I resolved to never again watch Oldman playing a chronic drunk, and now I’ve been through the same damn experience. In my mind there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between Oldman’s Cheever and his Herman J. Mankiewicz.

While watching I was thinking of two older films that were about the same kind of thing (i.e., a series of guys worshipping a young irresistible woman and wanting desperately to “lay lady lay” her) — John Schlesinger‘s Darling (’65) and Bernardo Bertolucci‘s Stealing Beauty (’96). Both had underlying currents that were at least moderately interesting, Darling in particular. If there’s any kind of subtextual intrigue in Parthenope, I missed it.

It also struck me that Dalla Porta, who’s around 26, resembles the young Mia Sara (Legend, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).