The Hand of God (Paolo Sorrentino, 2021, Italy/USA)

The Hand of God, Paolo Sorrentino's latest feature following 2015's Youth and 2018's Loro, is a sensitive coming-of-age feature set in Naples, Italy. This is Sorrentino's most autobiographical film so far, with the young actor Filippo Scotti serving as a stand-in for Sorrentino himself. The film's main dramatic twist, which occurs about halfway through the film, is deeply autobiographical to Sorrentino. Scotti gives an amazing breakthrough performance. His figure and appearance have something akin to Timothee Chalamet, who also starred recently in an Italian-set coming-of-age movie (Call Me By Your Name). 

Sorrentino's style has often been likened to Fellini, and this latest film is no exception. Fellini even makes a guest appearance in the film (we hear him, although we do not see him), as our protagonist's brother auditions for his latest film. The film has been criticized as overlong and self-indulgent, but I think that this misses the point of the film. Yes, The Hand of God is based around vignettes, but life itself is based around vignettes. We remember the characters in the film more than we do the specific actions surrounding them - relatives, neighbors, friends. 

One of the film's most fantastic sequences occurs when Fabietto, after deciding he wants to make films, confronts a local known director. This leads to an all-night conversation through the streets of Naples, culminating with an incredibly gorgeous shot of the water. These deeply emotional and profound moments stand out with the feelings of memories. The film also manages to tell a story of great loss, sadness, and personal growth without becoming overly sentimental. In fact, there are some moments of very dark black comedy in the film. In this way, the comparison made to Fellini was apt, who also combined sentimentality with often very dark black comedy in a magical way. 


10/10

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