The Hand of God: the most beautiful film by Paolo Sorrentino [critique]

An initiatory story where the Italian filmmaker reinvents himself by shedding all the distinctive marks of his cinema … to sign his greatest film.

What does a director’s cinema look like when he abandons his signature? In God’s hand, it takes about ten minutes before you know where you have set foot. There is indeed this very long panoramic over the Bay of Naples, and this typical intro sequence between sacred and profane. But afterwards, everything gets confused. For more than thirty years, Paolo Sorrentino was more than a style, a brand. The virtuoso camera movements, a paralyzing art of editing, a thought that unfolds in a hallucinatory way, and this incredible sense of musical setting … By telling his story, his Neapolitan youth, the death of his parents and his entry into the orders of cinema, the trompe-l’œil filmmaker has decided to shed all his tinsel. Without style effects, without music, without chrome frames. His films were the caricature of lucid men (on life, love, men’s weaknesses, women’s beauty), he tells here an initiation, a denial. His heroes contemplated their existential emptiness, wondering where to find the courage to throw themselves into it and disappear.

God’s hand is the portrait of a kid who avidly seeks to fill his lack (sentimental, intellectual, emotional). The result is astounding. Exposed, Sorrentino’s art, calmer, less chaotic, is heartbreaking: we find there the height of aesthetic vision, the visceral hope of rebirth, and pure emotion. With this dizzying admission which partly explains this radical gesture: the young Paolo made his imagination his hut, his ship, his shift. This is where his future as a filmmaker lay. He can turn up the volume and put his walkman back on his ears. This artistic reboot is his best film since La Grande Bellezza. No, his best film ever.

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