The Hand of God

Reality may be disappointing, but Sorrentino’s latest film is most definitely not. It qualifies as one of his better films, and it is, once again, among the best of the year. 

All the key Sorrentino traits are there, such as the fellinian ensemble of characters, the imprisoned paralisis of the main character, the surreal sequences set in high-end apartments. If most of his films focused on aged, fully fleshed characters, paralised in peculiar habits they developed after past traumas (such is the case of both the popes in The Young Pope and The New Pope, of Jep Gambardella in La Grande Bellezza, or the protagonist of Le Conseguenze dell’Amore) this time the protagonist is a teenager and the story has a picaresque nature. It is a story of transformation, that goes through a sense of entrapment, but that is not mainly distinguished by it.

As it has been often pointed out, this is Sorrentino’s most autobiographical work. What’s best, it does not feel like just another Amarcord, it is distinctively a Sorrentino film.

At first, The Hand of God has been presented as an eulogy to Diego Maradona and the fanticism surrounded by it, but the final film rather uses a season of Maradona fanaticism as a backdrop for the main storyline. What is more surprising is the continuous use of quotes from Dante’s Divine Comedy, an unprecedented literary reference in Sorrentino, who has often been more bound to Proust.

Outstanding cinematography is a major trait of Sorrentino’s films, and The Hand of God certainly does not disappoint in that department. Daria D’Antonio subentered Sorrentino’s usual director of Photography, Luca Bigazzi, and her work is just as outstanding, if not even more at moments. The opening long take, an overview of the gulf of Naples that zooms in to a car and then moves back out towards the sea, is one of the best opening scenes of any film from this year. The beautiful colour palettes for the Stromboli scene and the climatic scene that features Antonio Capuano make for some of the most beautiful sequences in Sorrentino’s filmography.

As of this review, The Hand of God is in the oscars shortlist for the best international film category and a Golden Globe nominee. It is no doubt one of the main contenders for both these awards, the only other credible adversary in the shortlist being Drive my Car. This prospect once again puts in question the snub that, together with Spencer and The Power of the Dog, it suffered in the competition for the Golden Lion. Though The Hand of God won the Silver Lion, it is rather questionable that it lost the main prize against a film that has already been forgot by the rest of the awards season.

The Hand of God, on the other hand, seems to have a bright future.


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