If you are over forty years old and you like or have liked football at some point in your life, you will know very well what the expression means ‘The hand of God’. It alludes to the goal that he put with his fist Diego Armando Maradona on June 22, 1986 in the World Cup final that faced Argentina against England and which was played at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. The albicelestes took the glory and when Diego was asked about the goal, he said that he had scored it “a little with the head and a little with the hand of God.”
Football is quite present in Paolo Sorrentino’s new film (‘The Young Pope’, ‘Youth’), as derived from its title, ‘It was the hand of God’. But it is not a hagiography of Maradona or a sports monologue as might be expected, rather it is a drama nostalgic autobiographical dyes that will conquer you just as it has with criticism (81% in Rotten Tomatoes) and public (7.7 in IMDb).
The film was first released in theaters and has just hit Netflix, that offers this official synopsis: “The Oscar-winning screenwriter and director Paolo Sorrentino (‘Il Divo ‘,’ La gran belleza ‘,’ The Young Pope ‘) presents the story of a boy, Fabietto Schisa, in the turbulent Naples of the eighties. In ‘Fue la mano de Dios’ there is room for happy surprises – such as the arrival of the legendary soccer player Diego Maradona – and for an equally unforeseen tragedy.
Fate plays its part, joy and misery intertwine, and Fabietto’s future begins to roll. Sorrentino returns to the city where he was born to tell his most personal story: a story about destiny and family, sports and cinema, love and loss “. Indeed, the film has a great autobiographical tinge.
If the word Naples still does not cause you curiosity and shudder, after seeing ‘It was God’s command’ you will be looking forward to the bloody pandemic to pass to travel to this Italian city. In the movie he appears as a Mediterranean coastal town with a magical and somewhat haunted touch.
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The first character we meet is that of Patrizia (Luisa Ranieri, ‘Letters to Juliet’), who is going to be the sexual muse of the protagonist of the film. But the start is very tremendous. They pick her up on the street and take her to an old and dilapidated house where she meets a most unpleasant old man who gropes her. Upon returning home, her husband accuses her of prostitution and physically assaults her.
We continue to meet characters. We found out that Patrizia is the aunt of Fabietto Schisa (Filippo Scotti, ‘Il re muore’), who goes with her parents Saviero (Toni Servillo, ‘Il Divo’)) and María (Teresa Saponangelo, ‘Il buco in esta’) to comfort her after the assault, but While the adults are questioning Patrizia’s mental health, the young man only manages to look at her breasts.
The transition to adulthood
It is the prologue to delve into the life of the kid. The Schisa family lives in a middle-class apartment. Fabietto and his father are football fans and his only dream is that, one day, Diego Armando Maradona ends up playing for Napoli. Saviero works in an office and has ever been unfaithful to his wife, Maria, a clever and joking housewife who is also a great mother.
Then this the older brother, Marchino (Marlon Joubert, ‘Romulus’), aspiring actor, and there is also a teenage sister, Daniela (Rossella Di Luca, ‘Il Commisario Ricciardi’), with a very rare role. The neighbor upstairs is called the Baroness (Beti Padrozzi, ‘The voice from within’) and we know she is the widow of “a famous gynecologist.”
‘It was the hand of God’ runs through warm food paths and family after-dinner meals in which she laughs, eats, drinks, gossips and takes baths (Patrizia gives it to her completely naked). There are scenes that provoke a huge smile, like when Fabietto accompanies his brother Marchino to an audition to be one of the 4,000 extras in a Fellini film.
In that indolence of permanent summer, Fabietto announces that perhaps he will study philosophy when he finishes school, but in reality what keeps him alive are the rumors that Maradona ends up signing for Naples [apunte biográfico: Paolo Sorrentino nació en Nápoles en 1970, así que tenía 16 años cuando el gol de ‘La mano de Dios’. De nada].
There will be those who say that ‘It was the hand of God’ remembers ‘Rome’ for that bittersweet and autobiographical touch. But, unlike Cuarón’s movie, Sorrentino’s has more soul, is more authentic, and poignantly explains the passage from adolescence to adulthood.
What we do concede is that Filippo Scotti was undoubtedly inspired by the Elio of Timothée Chalamet that we fell in love with on ‘Call Me By Your Name’. On the other hand, the most revealing and fascinating character of all is that of the mother, capable of giving a happy perspective to any difficulty in life.
Sorrentino, always influenced by Fellini, delivers here a controlled and exciting film whose axes are pain and family in which cinema plays a fundamental role. It is the Seventh Art that consoles a young man who supports his life in sports, food, sex, laughter, violence and tragedy and that, somehow, it will learn to survive.
Is about a daring film and more than cinema, it is art; not because it’s about ‘cinema verité’, no, but because it has been able to fill with life an inner world in which many of us can feel identified. Do not miss it.
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‘It was the hand of God’, the new film by Paolo Sorrentino that you can see on Netflix, it is not cinema, it is art