È stata la mano di Dio [The Hand of God] (2021)

È stata la mano di Dio
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Writer: Paolo Sorrentino
Cast: Filippo Scotti, Toni Servillo, Teresa Saponangelo, Marlon Joubert, Luisa Ranieri, Renato Carpentieri, Massimiliano Gallo, Betty Pedrazzi, Biagio Manna, Ciro Capano, Enzo Decaro, Lino Musella, Sofya Gershevich
Part of: surprise film at the Viennale
Seen on: 26.10.2021

Content Note: sexism, fatmisia, ableism, domestic violence, sexualized harrassment

Fabietto (Filippo Scotti) is a teenager in Naples with a large, boisterous family. Pretty much everyone around him is talking about Diego Maradona and whether he will come to play for Naples or not. There is a note of chaos in the implication of that possibility – a chaos that is well familiar to Fabietto and his family who live it everyday. That chaos lies in Fabiè’s crush on his aunt Patricia (Luisa Ranieri), and his parents Saverio (Toni Servillo) and Maria’s (Teresa Saponangelo) relationship, and the entire extended family. It’s not easy growing up in these circumstances, but Fabiè doesn’t really have a choice there.

I absolutely hated The Hand of God. It’s a film that isn’t just set in the 80s, it’s also stuck in times long past with its sense of humor. I’m honestly not sure if I actually remember all the things I should be writing Content Notes for. In any case, I was really pissed that I saw this.

The film poster showing Patricia (Luisa Ranieri) standing in a dilapitated, but formerly very grand room in front of a giant chandelier that is lit, but resting on the ground.

I watch the surprise movie at the Viennale basically every year. I just love the thrill of not knowing what I’m going to see. Of course, I don’t always love it, but often it means that I see films that I wouldn’t have otherwise watched and there is something to be said for that. For the most part. The Hand of God, though, really had me souring on the whole idea of suprise movies a little. Maybe I’ll skip next year’s surprise screening at the Viennale.

The film just made me so angry. I probably should have left and have a coffee instead of finishing it. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t. It starts in the first minute, when we get a shot of Patricia in a sheer white dress where her nipples really stand out. And the film ogles her extensively. That she later gets smacked on the butt by a random dude, beaten up by her husband, drooled over by her nephew and constantly judged by everyone (and I felt like the film wanted the audience to judge her too, a little) really doesn’t help matter.

Fabietto (Filippo Scotti) and his parents Saverio (Toni Servillo) and Maria (Teresa Saponangelo) on a moped.

But that’s just one small fraction of the problem I had with the film. There’s also an entire thing where the entire family is waiting for a relative to show up and introduce her new boyfriend. Turns out, she is fat, and he is old and disabled, and both are the butt of the joke for everyone around them. And that definitely includes the audience. And the list goes on. It’s the kind of humor that people will say admiringly just isn’t politically correct. But you know what? I would very much like to see films with politically correct humor. Because that’s the kind of humor that punches upwards and has basic respect for people. I’m really not interested in this kind of misanthropic cruelty.

That the film is based on Sorrentino’s own youth means that the point of view character is, of course, an awkward teenage boy who dreams of becoming a filmmaker (including an encounter with an asshole director who instantly becomes aspirational for Fabiè). If it had been just that, I would have thought the film pretty and boring, despite the really excellent soundtrack. Combined with that cruel sense of humor, it made me angry, though. I will definitely be steering clear of Sorrentino from now on.

Fabietto (Filippo Scotti) sitting on a hill overlooking the sea.

Summarizing: big fat no to this one.

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