The Hand of God is an Italian coming-of-age drama. The film has been directed by Paolo Sorrentino. It has been inspired by the real events in Sorrentini’s life when he was growing up in Naples, Italy.
Imagine yourself sitting alone on a sunny winter afternoon. The comfort and indolence transport you back to the good old days. You start savoring those memories that are still as fresh as the dew on the grass blades that you once found in the backyard of your childhood home. Those days of the past, bring a smile to your face. At times it makes you nostalgic and sometimes leaves you with a lump in your throat. Sorrentino’s ‘The Hand of God‘ is a similar sort of recollection. The ace director puts together events inspired by his days in Naples.
The Hand of God tells the story through his young protagonist named Fabietto Sachisa. You might notice that the events are not in a linear design where one thing leads to another but often like fragmented pieces that have the potential to be complete in itself, even if viewed separately. The events are important, but the real flavor of Sorrentino’s drama lies in his characters.
Every object has its own character, from a Walkman carried by Fabietto to a dining table where the whole family sat for dinner. And that is why maybe the viewers and critics have always seen Fellini- Esque attributes in the world created by Sorrentino. In his earlier works too, a reflection of La dolce Vita, 81/2, was seen by the critics. Not refuting any analysis, but I believe that some things became an intrinsic part of a specific era. Rebellion was one of them in the 60s. Fellini was a stalwart who advocated that nothing in a film is done just for the sake of it. Any form of entertainment was always backed by a strong motive. Nothing was meaningless. So maybe Sorrentino endorses the same intent that was specific to the fabled era of the 60s which in turn also becomes the basis of this comparison that Sorrentino has faced throughout his career.
Fabietto Schisa is figuring his way out in life. He wants to do philosophy, he tells his mom. His brother Marchino is an aspiring actor and is giving an audition for an extra in Federico Fellini’s film in one of the scenes. Sorrentino provides us with a glimpse of the audition room where many individuals are sitting with hopes in their eyes that maybe the virtuoso would cast them in his film. A great deal of conversation in the Schisa household is about Maradona leaving Barcelona and joining the football club in Naples. The family is not as happy and functional as they seem from outside. Fabietto’s father, Saverio Schisa, is having an affair outside the marriage. It is something that has been a bone of contention between him and his wife, Maria. They do share a romantic bond, but as and when Saverio’s fidelity relapses, the couple enters into a heated argument.
We get to see the peculiar and intriguing family members when they all meet for lunch. Signora Gentile, one of the elderlies of the family, likes saying rude words that had earned her the title of the meanest woman in Naples. Austera, is Uncle Alfredo’s wife and is, in fact, an in-house scientist. She claims to have found the cure for cancer in her mysterious lab. Aunt Patrizia is perpetually depressed. Her husband Franco is done with her and can no longer deal with her mental condition. She shares an extraordinary and unusual bond with Fabritto. There’s some sensualness to it, together with a paternal instinct too. Even a sexual counter with a neighbor, Baroness Focale, could not be blatantly termed to be lustful or licentious in any manner. Moreover, it was thoughtful in its essence.
Our life is often like a blind turn where no matter how much we think we are in control, we have no clue about what’s on the other side of the turn. Fabietto’s mother and father meet with an accident. Due to a carbon monoxide leak in their home, they died, leaving Fabrietto and his brother Marchino orphaned.
Fabietto discovers his passion for cinema and decides to go to Rome to pursue it. His brother stayed back as he had a different perspective of how he saw life. But before leaving for Rome, Fabietto has an encounter with a filmmaker that changes the course of his life.
‘The Hand of God’ Ending Explained – When Fabietto Meets His Mentor, Antonio Capuano
“Without conflict, you don’t progress, “says Capuano while Fabietto chases him down the alley. The conversation between the two helps us understand the inspirations of Sorrentino as a filmmaker. Antonio Capuano was a mentor to Sorrentino in real life, and it was inevitable that he wouldn’t mention his first encounter with Capuano in his autobiography.
Capuano mercilessly spouts out facts that nobody would want to hear, especially someone who is suffering from a loss. As a matter of fact everybody is in pain, each one of us have our struggles to deal with and Capuano believed that there was nothing unique in pain itself. But if one digs it more profoundly, then they might find something that is authentic in its essence. There is always a story hidden deep inside the wound. Capuano tells Fabietto that with hope, one can only make comforting films. Comfort is a trap for any filmmaker. He tells him that we are all alone. We all have our fair share of regrets and struggles that we deal with every day. Like many of us, Fabietto tells him that he wants to escape reality. He wanted to make films and reside in the imaginary world. But that mere notion is never enough. Had it been enough, then everybody would have made films.
Be it Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, or Sorrentino himself, great filmmakers always had a few things in common. Visual literacy was given utmost importance by all and they believed that great art never came from a place of comfort. Conflict and a state of unrest were a creator’s biggest enemy and greatest ally, depending upon how they saw it.
The Hand of God is a 2021 Italian Drama film written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino. It is streaming on Netflix.