Written & Directed By: Pablo Sorrentino
Cinematography: Daria D’Antonio
Editor: Cristiano Travaglioli
Cast: Filippo Scotti, Toni Servillo, Teresa Saponagelo, Luisa Ranieli, Marlon Joubert, Renato Carpentier, Massimiliano Gallo, Betty Pedrazzi
Fabietto Schisa is a boy in the tumultuous Naples of the 1980s. The Hand of God is a story full of unexpected joys, such as the arrival of football legend Diego Maradona, and an equally unexpected tragedy. Fate plays its part, joy and tragedy intertwine, and Fabietto’s future is set in motion.
This film is oddly restrained considering it is directed by Paolo Sorrentino. Whose films always lean on beautiful visuals, characters, and landscapes and usually showcase a surreal reality as well as feeling more epic in scope.
This film is autobiographical so that it feels more personal and with more depth. Not so much an ensemble but we do see the world of Neapolitan Italy through the eyes of our teenage protagonist. Though we spend a lot of time with his family and the characters he comes across. Who each affects and shape his life in some way
Some are more obvious and immediate, others we get glimpses of and then learn about them later but never quite forget them. As each has some kind of advice for the main character.
All of this is happening while in the background soccer player Maradona is bright onto Italy’s Team and is helping them win the World Cup. So Much so that the main characters’ activities are scheduled around seeing the games.
As he interacts with his family we see plenty of domestic drama. Though throughout there is a love story but it is more between the protagonist and his aunt. Who has a mental illness or is treated like she has and wears provocative clothing and has no problem being naked whenever. Not exactly your typical movie romance.
Though she is shown more as as a muse for him of free-thinking, humor, sex, and beauty and Luisa Ranieri playing aunt Patrica fills out the role beautifully. As the camera manages to make her look gorgeous no matter what the angle or lighting. Throughout the movie, there are female characters of great beauty who are treated as normal or every day.
The movie also managed to be one of the few films about filmmaking or future filmmakers that basically barely has any movies or talk of them in it. There is no film appreciation, though there is talk of Fellini, a filmmaker who Sorrentino can remind one of in telling personal stories in a grand way that always feels colorful.
This film doesn’t really follow a traditional plot or story and is more a collection of anecdotes and events that shape the character and give a vivid history and view of his hometown in the 1980s. Not as quirky as one might expect as there is nothing that truly stands out.
Though by the end you are glad you watched and experienced the film that plays and feels more like a book by the end. Only here not everything is spelled out. It is more experienced, witnessed, and felt.
This is also a film best viewed in a theater or on the biggest screen you can find.