Paolo Sorrentino revisits his childhood in The Hand of God trailer

In his upcoming work of loose autobiography for Netflix, a young man has a brush with greatness in ’80s Napoli.


Charles Bramesco


Paolo Sorrentino makes grand movies with grand ambitions: The Great Beauty’s tribute to the ecstasy of art, Youth’s reckoning with mortality, Loro’s national diagnosis via the hedonist amorality of no less than Silvio Berlusconi. He’ll do the same in his newest feature, which sees the Italian great going back to a fictionalized version of his own childhood for a coming-of-age on a magnificent scale.

The first trailer for The Hand of God arrived online today, teasing another work of unapologetic maximalism from our era’s self-styled successor to Fellini. If we accept that The Great Beauty was his approximation of La Dolce Vita, it looks like his latest film will be Sorrentino’s 8 1/2, a promising prospect for his devotees.

The plot goes back to a time and place the director knows all too well, namely Naples circa the 1980s, when Sorrentino himself spent his teenage years. There, young Fabietto (Filippo Scotti) lives with his eccentric family (including Toni Servillo, Sorrentino’s frequent muse) and learns to access his own passions for his burgeoning twin obsessions with cinema and football.

The latter figures prominently into the film, as the title (a nickname for the all-timer Diego Maradona) suggests. Maradona doesn’t just rise to greatness during the period in which the film is set, but has a chance encounter with Fabietto involving a narrowly avoided accident that changes the course of the younger man’s life forever.

This appears to be Sorrentino’s most personal film yet, though he’s always laced his movies with parts of himself. The Hand of God represents a real departure in being the least profane work we’ve seen from him in some time, without a trace of the nudity or wanton intoxication that last livened up Loro. Though for all we know, he’s just refraining from giving it all away in the trailer – we’ll know for sure soon enough, when it premieres at the Venice Film Festival next month.

The Hand of God comes to cinemas in the US on 3 December, and then Netflix on 15 December.

Published 19 Aug 2021

Tags: Diego Maradona Paolo Sorrentino Toni Servillo

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