8/10 Sometimes telling an extremely personal story about your own life/childhood can work and others times…not so much. Two recent examples include Joanna Hogg’s “The Souvenir” and its wildly unnecessary sequel as well as Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma”. Both of those movies, despite coming from talented film makers, were failures. Both came across as pretentious and slow, with “Roma” being incredibly boring and undeserving of its Academy Award nominations. Yet it was “Roma” that sparked the idea for writer/director Paolo Sorrentino to tell his own personal story here with “The Hand of God”, an example of how these films should be made. What works so well here is how authentic and personal the film feels, while avoiding the prentious and boring pitfalls that the other two aforementioned movies succumbed to. An Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Film, this Italian film is fitting since the last streaming film I reviewed (which is also Oscar nominated) was “Luca”, an Italian set tale. This film is better than “Luca” however and despite specific plot points not being relatable to many people’s lives, the overall struggles of youth and maturing are universally relatable, so the film is still interesting and intruiging. This is a European film and you definitely get to experience the closeness of family that many Italians so deeply cherish. The community in the film feels so real, as something like a soccer match (or fútbol) becomes a national obsession. The dialogue and characters all feel so genuine and the acting is phenomenal across the board. Despite coming in at a little over two hours long, the pacing works well because the story is engaging. We are presented with a wide range of emotions from success to heartbreak to joy to uncertainty. This is a coming of age story at a specific time in a young man’s life and no matter if you are a girl or boy, Italian or not, the themes and emotions will ring true for many who are lucky enough to seek this out. Part of the film being European in nature means there is plenty of nudity so despite the film revolving around a young man, this is definitely a film for adults. The only minor flaws that stood out to me didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the film. The biggest flaw was an ongoing joke about the protagonist’s sister always being in the bathroom but the joke becomes repetitive and gets old fast while simultaneously being the only part of the film that felt unrealistic. I also don’t think this has great replayability but even if you only see this film once, it would be worth it. Miles ahead of similar films with writers/directors telling their own childhood/coming of age stories, “The Hand of God” earns its Oscar nomination and I will be curious to see if it indeed deserves to win as I watch the other nominees.

#AuntilyClad / #PunchMonkLove / #NipplesInNaples / #TheHandOfGodfather / #HouseOfSchisa / #JustAuntGetEnough

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