Robert De Niro Shares What Makes for a Great Movie About Naples

The actor's an admirer of "The Hand of God"

Naples, seen from above.
Zsolt Cserna/Unsplash

What makes for a great movie about a city? That subject alone has itself led to some memorable onscreen work — notably, the 2003 documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself. But finding the right approach to convey the essence of a city (or, perhaps, a neighborhood within that city) to a viewer who’s never set foot in there can be a challenge for even the most talented filmmaker.

One actor who’s appeared in a host of great films about cities is Robert De Niro. And in a new essay for Deadline, he made the case for Paolo Sorrentino’s The Hand of God as being particularly effective and evocative in its depiction of Naples.

“You share Sorrentino’s love for Napoli in the opening beauty shots of an aerial approach over the Gulf of Naples to the city,” De Niro writes. And for him, the film evokes both Naples and another city that’s close to his heart.

“In so many ways,” De Niro writes, “Naples reminds me of the Italian-American New York I love.”

De Niro went on to describe how some of his own memories of growing up were evoked by The Hand of God. “For example, there’s Armà, the cigarette smuggler/small-time hood/violent hooligan/supportive friend and ultimately jail bird,” he writes. “[O]utlandish, yes, but completely believable to me because of my own experiences in New York City as a kid.”

De Niro isn’t the only admirer of Sorrentino’s film; it’s also predicted to be in the mix for this year’s Academy Awards. And if it transports more viewers to a city close to its creator’s heart, so much the better.


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.