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 ninth feature film is his most personal to date, inspired in part by his childhood experiences growing up in the city of Naples on Italian’s southwestern tip/coast. The title, ‘The Hand of God’, will be memorable to many in this country for the infamous Diego Maradona goal that played a key part in putting England out of the 1986 World Cup (and helped Argentina on their way to victory). In Naples, Maradona is a hero, a footballer who came, saw and conquered Italian football, delivering the only two Serie A titles in the clubs history. This plays out as the backdrop to the coming of age story of Fabietto Schisa (Filippo Scotti), the Sorrentino surrogate in the movie.
Fabietto has a happy upbringing with loving parents (Sorrentino regular Toni Servillo and Teresa Saponangelo) and a big family, until a tragedy undercuts everything he had taken for granted to this point. ‘The Hand of God’ follows Fabietto as he comes to terms with this tragedy, whilst adapting to his growing sexuality and the beginnings of his passion for moviemaking. Scotti, who looks like an Italian Timothee Chalamet, is well cast as Fabietto and is a likeable and relatable presence in the central role, whilst I enjoyed the idiosyncrasies of the various Schisa family members we encounter.
Sorrentino’s movies often make grander statements about the nature of society, enhanced by his trademark stylistic flourishes, so this marks ‘The Hand of God’ out as a relative outlier that definitely tones down his usual approach and is undoubtedly more personal. That being said, I like this version of Sorrentino too and I found this movie to be a really compelling coming of age movie (a genre I am always drawn too) that took me on an emotional journey with Fabietto.
‘The Hand of God’ is a departure for Paolo Sorrentino, but in doing so it gives an insight into the experiences of the young man that would go on to become one of the most interesting directors making movies today, and it’s well worth a watch on Netflix just now.
Directed By: Paolo Sorrentino
Starring: Filippo Scotti, Toni Servilio, Teresa Saponangelo, Luisa Ranieri, Massimiliano Galli and Renato Carpentieri