Academy Award-winning writer and director Paolo Sorrentino (“Youth”, “The New Pope (TV)”) heads back to his home town of Napoli to bring us his most personal movie yet, The Hand Of God, fans of England’s football team may not want to watch.
Young Fabietto Schisa, Filippo Scotti (“Il re muore”, “Luna Nera (TV)”), is growing up, perhaps not at the pace, or quite how he expected to, but life isn’t waiting for him.
He lives with his father Saverio, Toni Servillo (“Into the Labyrinth”, “Loro”), mother Maria, Teresa Saponangelo (“Porcelain”, “Gramigna”), brother Marchino, Marlon Joubert (“Romulus (TV)”, “Cattività (Short)”), and sister who is forever in the toilet, any toilet.
We are first introduced to Fabietto, Saverio and Maria when Maria’s sister Patrizia, Luisa Ranieri (“La vita promessa (TV)”, “Veleno”), calls her as her husband Franco, Massimiliano Gallo (“The Players”, “Pinocchio”), is attacking her. They all arrive on Fabietto’s scooter.
We see the family in various situations: from large family gatherings where they are awaiting Saverio’s sisters new boyfriend, who they proclaim “ugly as sin” and talks with a electrolarynx machine, to witnessing Signora Gentile, Dora Romano (“My Brilliant Friend (TV)”, “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer”), who swears at everyone and gets into scraps, to seeing them watching Diego Maradonna score that infamous goal in the World Cup.
There’s a moment, during the large family gathering which is chaotic and loud, everyone talking and laughing and joking, when Sorrentino slows the whole thing down, everything goes quiet and Fabietto and Patrizia share a moment.
The family are all Napoli supporters and their time is taken up with rumours that Maradonna may be signing for Napoli. Some believe it, others do not, he does eventually. Fabietto receives a Napoli season ticket from his father for his birthday after Maradonna’s signing.
This is a confusing time for Fabietto though, he lusts after every woman he sees, including his Aunt Patrizia who loves the attention, sunbathing naked at one point and asking him to bring her a towel, admiring his erection.
There’s a Baronessa Focale, Betty Pedrazzi (“Figli”, “Dafne”), who lives above the family, forever turning up then proclaiming, “I’m going, I’m bored”, she will eventually teach Fabiotto something unexpected.
Maria meanwhile is a prankster, doesn’t matter who or where, she plays pranks, from her neighbour to her husband, no-one is free from her jinks.
Sorrentino takes us through this young boys life as he lives, laughs, learns and cries with everything that life throws at him and then some.
The Hand Of God is a stunningly beautiful film, it feels like an endless summer, the type you remember as an adult, thinking this is what all your summers were like, forgetting the washed out summers of course.
Filippo is like a kid in a sweet shop a lot of the time, constantly in awe, trying to find himself, looking at everything in amazement. Toni is perfect as his father, a down to earth man who laughs and jokes and isn’t shy with the conversations he has with his young son.
The Hand Of God is a wonderful film, slow and purposeful covering a plethora of emotions and subjects and Sorrentino handles them with the delicacy and finesse at all times.
The Hand Of God is in select cinemas now and on Netflix from December 15th.
15th December 2021
THE QUICK SELL
The story of a boy in the tumultuous Naples of the 1980s. Sorrentino's most personal film yet is a tale of fate and family, sports and cinema, love and loss.