The Hand Of God, Nipples In Naples….Self-Indulgent Selfimportant Selfpleasuring Masterpiece
The Hand Of God(Netflix)
Starring: Filippo Scotti, Toni Servillo, Teresa Saponangelo, Marlon Joubert, Luisa Ranieri, Renato Carpentieri, Massimiliano Gallo, Betti Pedrazzi, Biagio Manna and Ciro Capano
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino
The Hand Of God Movie Review: Italian auteur Paolo Sorrentino is one of those globally feted filmmakers whose reputation precedes him to the movie theatres. Anything Sorrentino does we are supposed to clap and swoon over.
If the truth be told—and it’s about time it was—Sorrentino is grossly overrated.His cinema is more self-serving than supple, more ‘me’ than ‘us’. There is a quality of off-putting megalomania in his movies, as though the director, well aware of his reputation, can afford to take his glass to the corner of a crowded room for a selfindulgent swig , as admirers smile from a distance, afraid to disturb the genius in his state of selfimposed solitude.
Who knows he may be plotting his next masterpiece even as lesser mortals talk shop.
I don’t know whether Sorrentino’s latest sinfully-overrated film was born over a glass of the rejuvenating beverage. There is something distastefully hemmed-in about The Hand Of God. It is fiercely autobiographical : that goes without saying. What is not so apparent on the surface is how unlikeable Sorrentino’s family is. Compounding the tragedy is the unstated truth about this dysfunctional family: it thinks its story is worth telling in a big Netflix film(just how much did Netflix pay Sorrentino to regurgitate his past into this unpleasant facsimile in the present???)/
Set in Naples, the loveliest thing about The Hand Of God is Naples…and nipples.There are an assortment of breast shots , most of them concentrated on the pubescent hero Fabietto(Filippo Scotti)’s fey aunt Patrizia(Luisa Ranieri). Femme fatale,harlot or Joan of Arc….or a blend of all, Patrizia is the rebel of the family whose breasts are the most assertive part of her being.
In one sequence we see, Patrizia sunbathing stark naked on a boat while the rest of the family pretends it’s all part of day’s work. Patrizia has our young horny hero Fabietto bursting in his pants. Eventually it is an old bold baroness who initiates Fabietto into sex.
Fabietto’s seduction sequence is the most distasteful lovemaking I’ve seen on screen. The Baroness(evidently a big fan of Mrs Robinson) first invites Fabietti to brush her hair then to brush the hair on her “slit”(the Barroness’ description of her private part) and so on.
Another bestially bizarre sequence has all the womenfolk of the family thrashing the unpleasant matriarch with a child’s bicycle, a tablefan and whatever else they can lay their hands on.
By the time tragedy strikes Fabietto’s life and he is forced to grow up prematurely(this coming-of-age trope has been done to death since Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali) Sorrentino’s storytelling is afflicted by a much deeper tragedy. It’s the tragedy of a raconteur who has run out of tricks , and doesn’t care. The reputation of a celluloid genius would see him through
The rave reviews for The Hand Of God are testimony to the fact that the Emperor’s clothes can go missing anytime and no one would notice. The Hand Of God has a lot of the football genius Maradona’s references. At some point in this epicurean excursion into self-pleasuring, Maradona unknowingly saves Fabietto’s life. But who will save Sorrentino’s film from charges of extolling the irrelevant and the inconsequential?