By Nick DelVescovo
“The Hand of God” is an Italian film that was recently nominated for best international feature film at the Oscars. It was directed by Paolo Sorrentino and released in the United States on Dec. 1. The film is set in 1980s Naples and follows Fabietto, played by Filippo Scotti, a teenager who is trying to find his place in the world as he deals with sudden but drastic loss. “The Hand of God” is almost entirely in Italian, with only a few scenes including English dialogue.
The first thing to point out in this film is the remarkable filmmaking and cinematography that we see throughout the movie. Naples itself is beautiful, but both Sorrentino and Daria D’Antonio, the cinematographer, use that beauty to tell an incredible story with stunning visuals. From a filmmaking perspective alone, “The Hand of God” is a masterpiece.
From a story perspective, “The Hand of God” was uniquely told but very powerful. The first half of the film is very lighthearted and plays out like a comedy. However, there is a very drastic turn of events near the middle of the film that completely shifts the narrative and tone. Having gone in without watching any trailers or without any background knowledge, the change in tone came as a shock for me. It is very difficult for a movie to pull off a complete 180, but “The Hand of God” did it perfectly. It is ultimately a film about life and the tragedy shown in the film reminds the viewer how quickly we can lose something that brings us joy. What makes “The Hand of God” even more powerful is the fact that the story is loosely based on Sorrentino’s life. The audience witnesses the pain and joy first-hand. Sorrentino, who also wrote the movie, put his heart into making this story impactful and beautiful.
Scotti’s portrayal of Fabietto is what steals the show. He does an amazing job at capturing and portraying a teenager that is broken by loss while also trying to reach goals that seem unattainable. What I really enjoyed about “The Hand of God” is that the storyline is in no sense “cookie cutter.” The dramatic turning point paired with the very natural nature of the reactions of the characters in the film gives us a realistic portrayal of life. A big message of the film is that pain is something we all experience at some point, and sometimes we have to channel that pain to become a better person.
My only criticisms with “The Hand of God” are that some aspects of the film go nowhere and some of the decisions or actions the characters make are strange. It could be argued that these questionable decisions show the humanity and humility we all have, but for me, some things just didn't make sense in the grand scheme of the story.
I highly recommend “The Hand of God.” The film is quite deep and inspiring while also providing the audience with some absolutely beautiful scenes of the Italian landscape. If you enjoy powerful dramas and movies with strong messages, you will appreciate “The Hand of God” and its brilliance.