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Naples Rhapsody in “The Hand of God”

Paolo Sorrentino’s films can be abused, grotesque and non-uniform, but rarely alive.

His latest work, The Hand of God, is a catalog of mediocre and eternal miracle wonders. Glittering night view of Naples harbor. The soft lump of a motor boat that crosses the water. Nude body of a beautiful woman sunbathing.

Sorrentino’s Oscar-winning Great Beauty was also awe-inspiring and sensational as he roamed Rome. At The Hand of God, which Netflix will show in theaters on Wednesday and begin streaming on December 15, the director headed south to his hometown for an autobiographical film based on his childhood in the 1980s. Still, a melancholy yet ecstatic filmmaker with an enthusiastic and energetic camera, Solentino finds God’s splendor in everyday life and profane, with almost the same mood here.

The hand of God, which won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival and was submitted to Oscar, Italy, is a more personal detour for the 51-year-old Solentino. The cast of that exaggerated character is drawn from his own family. Our protagonist acting on behalf of the director is teenage Fabiet Sisa (Filippo Scotti). He is a timid young man with a curly ball and Walkman headphones around his neck. He is primarily an observer of the Family Circus around him: his charismatic father Saverio (Toniselville, a regular at Solentino), his mischievous mother Maria (Teresa Saponangelo, wonderful) and his Ambitious actor brother Marchino (gentle Marlon Jubert).

Others include Fabiet’s gorgeous aunt Patrizia (Luisa Ranieri), who is being abused by her suspicious husband, and football legend Diego Maradona, who is rumored to be unlikely to be acquired by Naples at the beginning of the movie. There are also important people. When he actually arrives, it’s as if he’s straight from heaven. (It’s a wonderfully recorded enthusiastic time in Asif Kapadia’s Diego Maradona.) Both Patrizia and Maradona seem to be phenomena in Fabiet’s life.

We recently have quite a few portraits of filmmakers as Joanna Hogg’s fascinating two-part The Souvenir, Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast. For Solentino, especially for Solentino, who has a lively sweet life, it is his Amarkord that drew the comparison of Fellini. (Ferini may even make a cameo here in the casting session scene.) But the autobiography doesn’t always feel like Solentino’s natural mode. As a master of decline and decadence, he mainly prefers older characters (propulsive Il Divo politicians, older companions of young people), and his direction is not himself, but the luxury and stylishness of the world. It was to make a good movie. That may be the reason why God’s hand is drawn most vividly when looking around the supporting characters of Naples and Dickensian.

Many scenes are shining like a father changing TV channels with a long pole. For him, remote areas are a sign of unjustified excess. We are communists, he says. We are honest with the core. When my parents were in the center, I liked God’s hand the most. This is because of how good Servilo and Saponangelo are, and because they are at a loss when the movie disappears.

But anything that impedes the flow of God’s hand drives it into Fabiet’s coming-of-age ceremony and leads to his new ambition, the filmmaker. Solentino’s films may not be in perfect harmony with their memories, and he still seems to have settled the past. I’ve only seen Fabiet, but some films like Once Upon a Time in America are motivated to make a film when sadness makes him seek a purpose. The reality is terrible, “Fabiette quotes Ferrini. His conundrum recasts the hand of God and Solentino himself as a filmmaker who seeks and saves wonders where he can find them. His visual feast is a nutritious diet for him, and perhaps for us.

The Netflix release, Hand of God, has been rated R by the American Film Association for sexual content, language, graphic nudity, and simple drugs. Execution time: 130 minutes. 3 out of 4 stars.

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Follow AP film writer Jake Coil on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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Naples Rhapsody in “The Hand of God”

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