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There's a lot of potential for comedy in the premise of Edoardo Falcone's debut feature Se Dio vuole (God Willing) and even perhaps some social commentary. Certainly the opening first act sets things up brilliantly, is wonderfully played and delivers plenty of laughs. After that however the film seems to lose the strength of its convictions, which is somewhat ironic given what the film is about...
Tomasso (Marco Giallini) is an eminent surgeon who has managed - not without some effort - to get his wife, his daughter and her husband to be prepared to come to terms with the likelihood that Andrea, his son, seems to be ready to 'come out'. When the moment arrives however, it's not what he expected. He could readily have accepted his son being gay, but when he discovers that Andrea's secret is that he has discovered a love for Jesus, has been taking religious instruction and wants to give up his medical studies to be a priest, Tomasso is enraged.
Having laid the ground to ensure that there is total support for Andrea's choices, Tomasso can't back down or let his feelings show, but is determined to prove that the cool priest, Fr. Pietro (Alessandro Gassman), who has been turning his head with ideas of an imaginary deity is a complete fraud. This involves checking into his background and setting up unlikely situations where the wealthy surgeon in a designer suit pretends to be a down-and-out looking for any kind of work, even criminal activity, and then having to fabricate a fake family of misfits.
The laughs come thick and fast in this early set-up. Tomasso is pretty blunt, demanding and controlling of his work colleagues and his family, but - like Andrea - everyone is ready to 'come out' and say exactly what they feel. Since it's a comedy, they can get away with a lot of politically incorrect behaviour and views, particularly if it's a means of revealing popular attitudes in Italian society that people aren't usually willing to express so openly.
Sadly, the film fails to capitalise on the issues it raises and tends to fall back on standard family comedy routines. Tomasso's dissatisfied and neglected wife, who has been turning to drink, overthrows her middle-class conformity to rediscover the revolutionary activist of her student days, but it looks awkward and feels half-hearted. A similar lack of conviction is demonstrated when Tomasso inevitably 'sees the light' so to speak, leading towards an unnecessary and unfortunate sentimental twist. There are still moments of wryly humorous nods and winks in Se Dio Vuole, but the laugh out loud moments and Father Ted like ridicule of religion and social attitudes around it are sadly sacrificed to the conventions of plot development and the delivery of little life lessons and a moral.
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