When you go to pick a movie on Netflix, it’s usually the description that pulls you in. But one thing they always leave out – if the movie has subtitles. Depending on the film, or series – this could be the death nail when watching it. Don’t get me wrong – some of my favorite movies are foreign and we watch them completely with subtitles. But when it comes to the new film The Hand of God, this is one of those movies we would have turned off within five minutes and never blinked.
The Hand of God is billed as a coming-of-age story for a young man who thinks that his life is saved because he stayed home to watch a football game with his favorite soccer player. But that really doesn’t even happen until more than halfway through the film. Instead, the movie focuses a lot on his family, who are cruel to each other, focus on his lust for his aunt that takes a disturbing term later, elder abuse, domestic violence, and grooming of a child for sexual abuse. How any of this is considered normal or a coming of age story – we’re not sure. If this is a biographic film, that would be a different story, but it’s just billed as an artful story.
We left The Hand of God questioning what we just watched. The normalization of abuse, sexual assault, and even a dysfunctional family – all painted as the normal coming of age experiences. It gets increasingly weird, bizarre, and even disturbing as you watch it. At times, I found my jaw actually dropped – and since the movie is in subtitles, you are almost forced to watch it because you will miss what’s happening or being said if you look away. This doesn’t give you much of a break between horrible moments through the movie, and it makes it almost even harder to watch as it continues to pile on you.
The movie is hard to watch. It’s as simple as that. The story jumps all over, makes no sense, and leaves you questioning how anyone could think this would be a coming-of-age story. Yes, often foreign films are a lot different than the coming of age tales and stories we are used to. But there is absolutely no way that this is even an artistic depiction of what coming of age in Italy is like. The only thing the movie really has to offer is beautiful scenery.
The Hand of God is in select theaters on December 3 and on Netflix on December 15.
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About The Hand of God
From Academy Award-winning writer and director Paolo Sorrentino (Il Divo, The Great Beauty, The Young Pope), comes the story of a boy, Fabietto Schisa, in the tumultuous Naples of the 1980s. The Hand of God is a story full of unexpected joys, such as the arrival of football legend Diego Maradona, and an equally unexpected tragedy. Fate plays its part, joy and tragedy intertwine, and Fabietto’s future is set in motion. Sorrentino returns to his hometown to tell his most personal story, a tale of fate and family, sports and cinema, love and loss.
This film is not yet rated.