The reality is vulgar. That is why I want to make films, even though I have only seen three or four films.
I wish it was all deciding between sleeping with the woman of your dreams or having the best player in the world play for your favorite team. Between provocative dreams of youth and bitter drinks of the purest reality, Paolo Sorrentino weaves the story of The Hand of God (2021). The Neapolitan has conceived his most personal work, a self-portrait. His cinema has hit audiences hard and his ability to explore the human soul and understand the world around him is impressive. With The Great Beauty (2013) he reminded us of the great Italian masters who preceded him while spawning a legendary film.
Like Fellini building his 8 ½ (1963) that’s how Sorrentino goes putting together his film. Grabbing loose fragments of his past and adhering them to decisive moments that marked him, he manages to shape his life. Nostalgia is breathed in each line and each sequence, but it does not govern the discourse. The cadence is marked by the perfect use of cinematographic language and the use of longing as a character and not as a gimmicky resource. The Hand of God is a vehicle to atone for demons, a story of thriving puberty, a reflection on the family and a song to celebrate soccer Sundays and summer afternoons in front of the sea of a bygone time.
The Hand of God
The convulsive Naples of the 1980s serves as the background for Sorrentino’s tale. The day the best soccer player in the world decided to sign for the modest Neapolitan team, the earth shook. The summer of 1984 must have been the most important in the lives of all those residents of the city of Vesuvius and in particular for the young Fabietto Schisa (Filippo Scotti). Director Sorrentino’s alter ego saw his life defined in the days when Maradona set foot in his town, his aunt Patrizia (Luisa Ranieri) commanded the stiffness between his legs and his brother Marchino (Marlon Joubert) dreamed of being an actor. The script moves between surreal moments, family meals, boat rides and celluloid dreams.
With the hand! A God! He scored with his hand. He has avenged the great Argentine people, oppressed by the ignoble imperialists in the Malvinas.
Daria D’Antonio (Ricordi ?, La pelle dell’orso) is responsible for the cinematography. Her camera follows that Fabietto on his summer adventures while the music of Lele Marchitelli (The Great Beauty) adorns his steps and accompanies his heartbeat. The audiovisual universe of The Hand of God is impressive, and each sequence is a poetry that is read at 24 frames per second. Sorrentino’s characters come to Fabietto’s world, some to give and others to steal. Insignificant conversations become momentous and with each confluence Fabietto is tearing the veil of adolescence.
Many of Sorrentino’s characters constantly return to the sea as they say goodbye to Fabietto. After having fulfilled their mission, having germinated, then they return to the origin while Fabietto knows that somehow these encounters have importance even when he cannot fully understand their meaning. Between dribbles from Maradona, voluptuous erect breasts, and family tragedy The Hand of God hits us with the same force that merciless adolescence strikes us.