#REVIEW: “THE HAND OF GOD”
Review by Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
The Hand of God is Filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino’s most personal film to date and is a visually stunning love letter to his native Naples. The Film takes place in 1980s Naples, Italy, and follows Fabietto (Filippo Scotti) and his delightful family. Fabietto’s life forever changes when he is inadvertently saved from a heartbreaking accident by soccer legend Diego Maradona.
What’s most exciting about The Hand of God is the constant tug between the surreal and the ordinary. The surreal comes with the lonely Fabietto finding a friend in a criminal, his Aunt Patrizia (Luisa Ranieri) unabashedly flirting with him, and the young man getting the opportunity to have a private chat with an influential Director. The ordinary comes through scenes of family gatherings. Through the ordinary, a beautiful portrait of the domestic is captured. Even with the vast members of the family, Sorrentino makes each wholly distinct and memorable. These gatherings have delightful Italian humour and entertaining family arguments that create relatability with all audiences.
This lovable family is perfectly brought to the screen with a talented Cast. Before the heartbreaking accident, Scotti plays Fabietto with observance. He’s constantly watching and learning from the interactions between his family. Following the accident, he takes action towards his future. It’s wonderful to watch as he falls in love with cinema and makes the tough decision to move city.
The Supporting Cast gives impactful performances. Ranieri is a force on the screen. She brings gravity and levity to Patrizia as the woman keeps her humour while struggling with the reality of her life. Fabietto’s parents Saverio and Maria played by Toni Servillo and Teresa Saponangelo respectively are knockouts. It’s captivating to watch their shared quiet moments of romance and their powerful verbal arguments. The bond the parents share with Fabietto is instrumental to the story and Servillo, Saponangelo and Scotti have magnetic chemistry. Additionally, Saponangelo is hilarious in moments when Maria plays pranks on her family and neighbours.
Although The Hand of God will affect all audiences, those with an understanding of Neapolitan folklore may benefit. The opening and closing scenes have a Neapolitan folkloric young monk. In the opening, this monk gives hope to Patrizia in getting pregnant. While in the end shot, the monk is seen on a train platform as Fabietto is heading towards his future.
Overall, The Hand of God is a touching coming-of-age story with stellar performances depicting a vibrant, delightful family. Sorrentino takes us on a nostalgic journey to youth as well as an endearing trip to Naples.
THE HAND OF GOD is in select theatres December 3, 2021 and on Netflix December 15, 2021.