Film Review – The Hand of God (2021)

Title – The Hand of God (2021) 

Director – Paolo Sorrentino (Youth) 

Cast – Filippo Scotti, Toni Servillo, Teresa Saponangelo, Marlon Joubert

Plot – A coming of age story about teenager Fabietto Schisa (Scotti) who alongside his family is growing up in the soccer obsessed city of Naples in Italy. 

“You’re all grown up” 

Review by Eddie on 20/04/2022

A movie close to the heart of famed Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, with many of The Hand of God’s narrative elements plucked directly out of the early years of the filmmakers own life, Netflix’s original offering is a unique and colourful example of a coming of age film that is often both awkwardly hilarious, insightful and even tragically heartbreaking. 

Set in the 1980’s period of Naples, Sorrentino’s town of his youth, God (named after a famous incident in World Cup soccer) follows teenager Fabietto Schisa in the soccer loving (and Diego Maradona obsessed) surrounds of his city and his eccentric direct and extended family as he discovers who he is and what he wants to be around a time of great personal tragedy that would shape the future man he would become as the world opens up to him. 

Wonderfully played by its lead youngster Filippo Scotti, God is a brilliantly played out drama that is easily Sorrentino’s most personal and humanistic feature yet when compared to the likes of his well-regarded previous efforts like Youth, The Great Beauty and mini-series The Young Pope and it shows a great reverence and respect for Sorrentino’s culture, family and city, giving God a fresh and exciting vibrancy that is on show throughout. 

Alive with sounds, smells and place, Naples makes for a picturesque and often extravagant backdrop for Fabietto’s journey through his youth that includes run ins with his unpredictable aunt, intense filmmakers, cigar smugglers and of course the greatest soccer player that ever lived and in many respects this prestigious feeling dramatic affair (with more than a few odd sprinklings of dark humour and awkwardness) feels entirely unlike a usual Netflix original and one that is sure to make some waves at any of the award season ceremonies left to run throughout 2022.   

There are times you wish the film remained a little more focused in what its exploring or trying to explore, as lots of comings and goings are scattered throughout Fabietto’s tale of self-discovery and finding ones purpose in a world that doesn’t always make it easy and a little more nuance in exploring side characters in Fabietto’s life or even time given to key players in his everyday living could’ve helped the film enter into a whole other level but as it stands this is a heartfelt and unpredictable tale that Sorrentino should be proud of delivering. 

Final Say – 

While familiar in parts, The Hand of God is an original coming of age drama that has been born out of real life triumph and tragedy making this Italian set tale an undeniable score for its director. 

4 grumpy directors out of 5   

2 responses to “Film Review – The Hand of God (2021)

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