God Willing (2015)
It is easy to mis-read a movie. Many will watch God Willing (2016) on the promise of a “wildly entertaining smash-hit comedy”, have a few laughs then be unsure why they are leaving the cinema in a non-comedic mood. It takes time and reflection to get some perspective on this film’s underlying message because it is well-hidden behind the narrative wall of an original and funny sit-com drama. Ignore the over-hyped labels attached to this film. It is actually a morally challenging debate between Catholicism and atheism fought out between a cool ex-con priest and an arrogant surgeon. This makes it a none-too-subtle appeal to the ‘god-less generation’.
The story traces the moral and emotional awakening of celebrated cardiac surgeon Tommaso (Marco Giallini). While he saves many lives, he is totally self-absorbed and insulting to everyone around him. His son announces he will forego medical studies to enter the priesthood and Tommaso believes he is under the spell of charismatic Father Don Pietro (Alessandro Gassman). Tommaso plots to expose Don Pietro as a fraudster in the hope that his son will change his mind and the scheme provides the big laughs of the film. When it all backfires his penance is to spend a month helping to restore a run-down chapel. Sub-stories revolving around patriarchal family tensions flesh out the narrative, but the deeper layer of the film is the changing relationship between the priest and the atheist. Much of the script and its humour is framed to isolate and then contrast Tommaso’s self-interest with practically everyone else in the film, all of whom appear sympathetic towards the Catholic faith.
The co-stars Giallini and Gassman are excellent in their roles and elevate the domestic farce to a humour-filled morality play that pits the secular against the divine. The directing and filming produces an engaging style of European realism and the story leverages some intelligent humour against more profound questions about faith in the modern world. The English sub-titles do not seem to keep pace with the rapid-fire Italian dialogue and inevitably miss nuances in the script. But this does not detract from the story nor its clever use of one-liner gags in the cause of moral awareness. The twists and turns make this a thoroughly entertaining film that will make many viewers think deeply about the nature of faith and the pathos of our mortality.
Director: Edoardo Maria Falcone
Stars: Marco Giallini, Alessandro Gassman, Laura Morante