The Hand of God – Film Review

The Hand of God (2021) - IMDb

Director: Paolo Sorrentino

Writer: Paolo Sorrentino

Starring: Filippo Scotti, Toni Servillo, Teresa Saponangelo, Marlon Joubert, Luisa Ranieri, Renato Carpentieri, Massimiliano Gallo, Betti Perrazzi

Rating: ★★★½

The Hand of God is Paolo Sorrentino’s most personal and autobiographical film to date. It’s a film that deals with family, growing up, life, cinema, and football. It’s a celebration of the joys and sorrows of life. The celebration of the mundane as well reflecting on life changing events. The Hand of God is joyful and often poignant, while at other times it feels detached, uncomfortable and a little dull.

In the 1980s the biggest question on everyone’s mind in Naples is whether Diego Maradona will be joining the local football team. Fabietto (Filippo Scotti) and his family are loud and full of character. They may have they’re negative moments, but overall, they love each other and have a lot of fun pranking and having family meals. When tragedy strikes Fabietto has to grow up fast and find out the harsh realities of life.

Sorrentino is incredibly reflective in The Hand of God. It’s a look at life and coming of age with all of the up and downs that comes with it. It was filmed and is set in his home town, and a lot of it is based on actual events that happened. The tragedy that Fabietto endures is the senseless loss of his parents that comes out of nowhere and changes his life completely. Life wasn’t perfect before it happens for him, but afterwards there’s a sense of confusion and lack of direction in where life will take him.

The death of Fabietto’s parents happens at the exact half-way point through the film. The build up to it, is full of happy family moments, lots of laughter and love. There is still moments of struggle, including an argument that ends with his mother, Maria (Teresa Saponangelo), screaming uncontrollably, that is genuinely devastating. There is a cruel sense of humour that happens here as well, because it’s moments after this that Maradona is revealed to have joined Napoli. Football is the thing that brings them all together and brings such joy to everyone.

When the death scene happens, there’s no warning. It actually feels sweet, until you realise what’s actually happening. They die from a carbon monoxide leak and fall asleep together while whistling. After this the second half of the film is a lot more downbeat and tragic. Fabietto is lost without his parents, and it does get emotional at points. It also gets incredibly uncomfortable at points, especially during an encounter between Fabietto and one of their neighbours.

In both the first and second half there are moments where it feels like it’s just meandering about. It’s a film about life, reflecting on the small and big moments, so there are points where it feels like nothing is really happening. You’re observing it all, like you’re looking through an old photo album, and it can leave you a little detached at points. When it connects with you, it really works, and when it doesn’t the film starts to feel dull. Thankfully Filippo Scotti is excellent and can always drag your attention back when it starts to wonder.

The Hand of God is an incredibly personal and reflective film. It feels very poignant at points while tackling the themes of loss and growing up, while also celebrating the small things like watching football with your family and meals. Which pretty much sums up life in general.

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About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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