Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Eduardo Falcone
Stars: Marco Giallini, Alessandro Gassman, Laura Morante, Ilaria Spada, Enrico Oetiker, Edoardo Pesce, Giuseppina Cervizzi, Silvia Munguia.
One of the hits at the recent Italian Film Festival, this crowd pleasing feel good comedy gets a cinema release. God Willing (Se Dio vuole) is the directorial debut feature from writer Eduardo Falcone (Remember Me?, etc), and is a delight that moves at a fairly brisk pace. Dealing with themes of faith, family, human nature, and the meaning of life, the film is full of gentle humour and insights.
Tommaso (Marco Giallini, from tv series Romanzo Criminale, etc) is a respected heart surgeon at a city hospital, but he is also arrogant, aloof and occasionally condescending, qualities that do not exactly endear him to his patients or colleagues, nor to his own family. Tommaso is married to the beautiful and intelligent but neglected Carla (Laura Morante, from The Son’s Room, etc), who used to be a passionate idealist in her youth but has since lost that fire in her belly. Carla now secretly drinks from hidden flasks of wine to bury her disappointment. Tommaso has two children, Andrea (newcomer Enrico Oetiker, in his film debut), who is studying medicine and preparing to follow in his father’s footsteps, and the ditzy BIanca (Ilaria Spada), who is married to shifty real estate broker Gianni (Edoardo Pesce), whom he dislikes.
Then one day Andrea announces that he has something he wishes to share with the family. Tommaso suspects that he is about to admit that he is gay, and has prepared himself and the family for the news. Instead, Andrea announces that he is going to quit medical school and become a priest. Andrea has been influenced by the charismatic new priest Father Don Pietro (Alessandro Gassmann, from Transporter 2, etc). A staunch atheist, Tommaso is shocked and disappointed, and sets out to expose the hip young priest as a fraud. He goes “undercover”, posing as a troubled man seeking help from the priest. He recruits a bunch of allies to pose as his fake family while he ingratiates himself with Don Pietro. Tommaso even finds himself helping the priest to rebuilt a ruined old church. Thus begins a series of discussions between the avowed atheist and the man of the cloth.
But slowly a strong bond of respect and friendship develops between the two men. Slowly Tommaso finds his own beliefs and certainties questioned, and he is forced to face up to his own deeply flawed character. Eventually his life is transformed by this quiet and unassuming Vespa-riding priest. Meanwhile the dissatisfied Carla and Bianca both undergo personal transformations as well and the healing process begins that will bring this dysfunctional family closer together.
God Willing is essentially another variation on the familiar buddy comedy formula, although at times the material slips into broad farce with some big laughs. But it is the friendship between Tomasso and Don Pietro that gives the film its emotional core. Falcone comes from a background in the theatre and he maintains a tight rein on proceedings. With a brisk running time of 87 minutes the film never outstays its welcome.
There is great chemistry between Gialliniu and Gassmann, as an odd couple whose slowly developing friendship forms the crux of the film. But some of the peripheral characters are also quite memorable and nicely played. Spada is great as Bianca who proves that she is a lot smarter than her father gives her credit for, while Tommaso’s overweight nursing aide Rosa is another great character, and Giuseppina Cervizzi steals several scenes with her exuberant performance. And Silvia Munguia brings some dry humour to her small role as the family maid Xenia.
The film looks great thanks to the cinematography of Tommaso Borgstrom, while Carlo Virzi’s score enhances the upbeat mood.