‘The Hand of God’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Paolo Sorrentino’s The Hand of God takes you back to 1980s Naples, Italy. We meet an awkward Italian teen, Fabietto Schisa (Filippo Scotti) struggling to find his place. He experiences heartbreak and liberation, after he’s inadvertently saved from a freak accident by football legend Diego Maradona. Sorrentino captures the beauty of Napoli through the scenic landscapes and the wholesome family dynamic in the first half of this film. He shows the entire spectrum of coming-of-age through important moments in Fabietto’s life that will define who he is and help him grow as a person.

Sorrentino opens the film with sweeping, aerial shots off the coast of Napoli and then he zones in on one woman in particular, Patrizia (Luisa Ranieri). She is standing outside of a club, as a beautiful car pulls up beside her. The man in the backseat is revealed to be San Gennaro. For those of you who don’t know, the miracle of San Gennaro supposedly happens three times a year, where his blood changes from a solid condition to liquid. Onlookers consider this a miracle and wish the best for themselves around this time. In this case, Patrizia has been struggling to get pregnant, and goes with San Gennaro to see if the magic is real. After this encounter, the series of events that unfold are assessed through faith and of course, il mano di Dio.

Fabietto is incredibly close with his father Saverio (Toni Servillo) and his brother Marchino (Marlon Joubert). Sorrentino shows Fabietto’s vulnerability and naivete in the first half of this film, as he looks up to his father and brother. He has this infatuation with his zia Patrizia because of how attractive she is. Not only does Sorrentino show the bodies of women in the most natural way, but also it’s the confidence that pours out of their actions. It’s the strength and power women have over men, that can’t be explained but it’s certainly felt. Sorrentino explores Fabietto’s budding sexual desires in subtle ways and newcomer Filippo Scotti gives a very strong performance.

The Hand of God touches upon sexual expression, grief, and optimism for the future. Fabietto turns to cinema and directing to fully express himself. He wants to be able to share his pain through art because it’s difficult for him to express his emotions. This film has some beautiful moments but it feels disjointed. The first half is more playful and the second half takes a turn for the worse. It feels like two separate films coming together to explore the highs and lows of being a teenager. Sorrentino framed certain moments quite beautifully but there wasn’t enough of an emotional connection to these characters.

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