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GOD WILLING – Divine Comedy

God Willing

Directed by Edorado Maria Falcone
Starring Marco Giallini, Alexandro Gassman, Laura Morante

When his son announces his attention to drop out of medical school to pursue a career in the church, renowned surgeon Tomasso (Marco Giallini) is thrown into chaos.  Convinced his golden boy is under the sway of a charismatic conman, Tomasso schemes to discredit the rock-star like priest his son is listening to. However Don Pietro (Alexandro Gassman) is rather more worldly wise than he appears, and Tomasso’s own family is undergoing a significant change brought about by the shock announcement. To pull this off Tomasso is going to need a miracle, and that is something it’s difficult for a fervent atheist to trust in.

A broad-strokes Italian comedy that manages to skewer both sides of the religious debate. Although it certainly comes down in the favour of faith, it does so by being fairly gentle and even handed in its criticism of both sides. Ultimately it is more concerned about lampooning pomposity and hypocrisy wherever it can find it.

As such Giallini’s Tomasso is certainly a ripe target. Despite his liberal leanings he comes across as the arrogant, controlling patriarch. The sentiment is certainly there, but it often lacks connection to action, or even empathy, a fact which he is apparently unaware of. Hence Tomasso is perfectly capable of prefacing a dressing down of his South American maid with an apology for the genocide of her people, completely unaware of the inappropriateness of his action. Giallini plays this with a great sense of deadpan delivery and comedic timing.

Gassman by contrast allows his charisma to shine as the wise priest with the heart of a rogue. The adversarial relationship he sets up with Giallini is fascinating to watch, and both stars milk the comedy elements for all they are worth.

A gentle natured piece God Willing certainly plays for the cheap seats, but it does so effectively. What could easily devolve into a contrived farce instead plays out as genuinely funny and occasionally poignant. In many ways the issue explored here is not just faith, but rather taking the time to listen and communicate. Whether that be with a higher power, or in Tomasso’s case, simply the people in your life. A sentimental message to be sure, but one that is rather effectively delivered.

An audience pleasing debut from director Edorado Maria Falcone, that is just a little more intelligently written than it pretends to be. Amusing, heart-warming and just occasionally thoughtful.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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