If god wants (2015), Edoardo Maria Falcone – Review

Alessandro Gassman plays main role

“If God wants, he  poses the confrontation between science and religion. It is not a disrespectful film for Catholicism, but different opinions and attitudes are confronted, including superficial faith and spiritualist fashions. »

Despite the apparent banality and frivolity of the times, even despite the fact that the Church is an increasingly diminished institution in Europe, discussions about faith or about the existence of God reappear from time to time. It is logical that these discussions be reproduced to the extent that, until not long ago, the Christian religion, which, after all, has been the traditional religion of the continent. This film has as its leit-motiv religion, treated in the key of comedy.

In any comedy some kind of mistake must appear

It is not a disrespectful film stream for Catholicism, something that could easily fall into being a comedy, but one in which different opinions and attitudes are confronted, including superficial faith and spiritual fashions, as intense as they are shrewd. The mistake – in any comedy some kind of mistake must appear – has to do with the fact that the one whom everyone feared was gay, turns out to abstain from women (in that Italy that considers sticky flirting as a national habit ) was because he wanted to enter the seminary.

This is the initial approach and, from here, the reader will see if the plot can tune into what he aspires to see on a specific afternoon or night, or if he prefers an adventure movie, a thriller or the umpteenth zombie movie or of high school vampires. Let us now round up the value and quality a little more than what God shows us ( Se Dio vuole ).

One of the problems it poses is the confrontation between science and religion. The father of the seminary aspirant is a renowned surgeon who expected his son, a student, to follow in his footsteps. But science and religion follow opposite paths no matter how much Father Teilhard de Chardin wanted to demonstrate the opposite, or no matter how much the Higgs boson has been called, almost by way of provocation, the “God particle”.The subject is very playful and far from being exhausted, but in this film, dialogues that could be creative and illustrative about the state of affairs are absent. Even the contradiction between a scientific father and a priest son does not give rise to expose a generational conflict that today is completely different from how it would have arisen in the 1960s (in which, usually, the parents were devout Catholics and the children they tended to be disbelieving).

The movie is halfway there. It has a good starting approach and is extremely pleasant in the first part. Then everything goes wrong and remains in the chapter of frustrated good intentions, as if Edoardo María Falcone, in his role as director or in the writing of the script, suffered a collapse of ideas and had not known where to leave. So, first part (approach and knot) good; second part (outcome) loose.

Film becomes the negation of what was originally promised

Instead of ingenious discussions, the director-screenwriter gradually drifts towards the exercise of sentimentality. The film becomes the negation of what was originally promised (where moments of sparkle of wit appear). The humorous streak is lost and is replaced by a proper funeral seriousness and a no-frost coldness. It even seems that the director believed that he might offend someone, and he suddenly stepped on the brake. The result has been the loss of vigor and comedy, but without penetrating the grounds of a discussion between science and faith, in which, no doubt, always, something new can be brought. The second part of the film, therefore, cancels the first part. When the lights come on and the projection ends, we have some memory leftsketch and little else. It is the price of political correctness: it suits everyone but leaves no trace.

Let’s say something about the director, Edoardo Maria Falcone. Quinta del 68, this is his first feature as a director, but since 2010 he has participated in a dozen Italian films as a screenwriter. Most of the projects he has embarked on are comedies. With Alessandro Gassman, he had previously worked at Viva l’Italia (2012). Falcone, the first film in which he has sat in the director’s chair, has proven to be a prophet in his homeland. Indeed,  If God Wants has benefited from very favorable reviews in Italy and has even received the Best New Director Award. Not forgetting that it also received the Nastro d’argentofor Best New Director and nomination for Best Producer. The film was also screened at the Tokyo International Film Festival, being awarded the Audience Award for its director.

As for the actors’ work, it is impeccable and without objection. The representation that Marco Giallini performs as the surgeon “Tommaso De Luca” deserves to be highlighted. As for the role of Alessandro Gassman – the priest who embarks the young student on the path of religion – it fails, not because of his acting abilities, but because there is something in the script that limits him.

If you remember that Italian television series  Don Matteo (which is in its tenth season), it will be easy for you to keep in mind the role of Terence Hill playing the priest who gives the series its name, provided with a double aspect: solving crimes and helping families in their daily problems. Here, in If God Wants, the role of “Father Pietro” embodied by Gassman seems inspired by this second task that Terence Hill embodied. A fleeting evocation of this series, appears in the form of a wink, in the first scenes of the film. By the way, for those who have seen Don Matteo, the actress who played the first girlfriend of “Captain Giulio Tommassi”, Ilaria Spada, assumes here the role of “Bianca De Luca”, daughter of the surgeon and sister of the aspirant to enter the clergy. His role provides some of the film’s most hilarious gags, as well as being the most frivolous and influential character we’ll see on screen.

The main problem with the movie is that the characters are barely designed, just sketched. They need to be trimmed and polished. If the script had been worked on a little more, the film would have bordered on the category of memorable, would have ensured that, once it captured the initial interest of the viewer, it would remain. Too many conditionals. And this is exactly what does not happen: the duel between Giallini and Gassman, between science and faith, seems like a duel at first blood, which loses intensity and is blurred in the chapter of frustrated good intentions.

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