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Netflix The Hand of God (2021)

JoeStemme

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Title: The Hand of God

Genre: Drama

Director: Paolo Sorrentino

Cast: Filippo Scotti, Toni Servillo, Teresa Saponangelo, Marlon Joubert, Luisa Ranieri, Renato Carpentieri, Massimiliano Gallo, Betti Pedrazzi, Enzo De Caro, Sofya Gershevich, Lino Musella, Biagio Manna, Ciro Capano, Alessandro Bressanello, Birte Berg, Dora Romano, Monica Nappo, Cristiana Dell'Anna, Alfonso Perugini

Release: 2021-11-24

Runtime: 130

Plot: In 1980s Naples, young Fabietto pursues his love for football as family tragedy strikes, shaping his uncertain but promising future as a filmmaker.

Paolo Sorrentino's autobiographical picture follows the filmmaker's stand-in Fabietto (Filippo Scotti) as an introverted teenager in 80s era Naples. His father Saverio (the great Toni Servillo) and Mother Maria (Teresa Saponangelo; quite engaging) live a comfortable life with their other son Marchino (Marlon Joubert). There is also an extended family of colorful relatives and circle of friends. Fabietto can't help but be mesmerized by his bodacious and extroverted aunt Patrizia (Luisa Ranieri).

Sorrentino has never made a secret about his admiration for Federico Fellini and the first half of the picture is clearly designed with the Maestro's masterpiece AMARCORD in mind. Instead of the rise of Mussolini as a backdrop that ties the vignettes together, here it's the arrival of soccer great Diego Maradona who signs with Napoli and becomes a local legend (the title is in reference to his most famous play). It's when things get more serious in the second half where one sees what inspired Sorrentino to tell such a personal tale. Fabietto is faced with having to truly grow up - and, in a hurry. To decide what his future may be. The anecdotes and episodes continue to be serio-comic and filled with often over the top details. It's very much in the vein of Fellini's early classic, I VITELLONI.

Actor Scotti does very well in trying to channel Sorrentino's alter-ego. He has a natural presence and he does what he can to give the viewer a reason to care about his life. Still, Sorrentino's screenplay never quite unites all of its various threads into a cohesive narrative. We only see snippets of Fabietto's interest in cinema. Not only is Fellini mentioned, but so are other major Directors of Italian cinema such as Franco Zefferelli and Sergio Leone. But, it is local Neapolitan filmmaker Antonio Capuano (played by Ciro Capano) who gives young Fabietto some important but stern advice (Capano became a mentor to Sorrentino). It's a strong sequence, but, far too little and too late in the proceedings to anchor the movie. Just because a film is 'from the heart' doesn't mean it translates well to the screen. One has to invite in the viewer. Here, far too much of it plays like Sorrentino's personal notebook. It's vividly produced with some very fine cinematography by Daria D'Antonio and it has a lively cast, but, it never truly sings. HAND OF GOD gives the viewer some insight into Sorrentino's past, but, it never quite fully connects.
 

Keith Cobby

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Wonderful, somewhat autobiographical film by the great Paolo Sorrentino. Not far off his masterpiece, The Great Beauty.

The title refers to probably the most notorious incident in the history of English football.
 
Movie information in first post provided by The Movie Database

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