[after his parents have left, thinking he is ill] "They bought it. Incredible! One of the worst performances of my…
Gelsomina’s family works according to some special rules. First of all, Gelsomina, at twelve years of age, is head of the family and her three younger sisters must obey her: sleep when she tells them to and work under her watchful eye. But the world, the outside, mustn’t know anything about their rules, and must be kept away from them. They must learn to disguise themselves.
The moments of poetry and the moments of realism blend seamlessly in Alice Rohrwacher's Le Meraviglie, a wondrous coming-of-age tale about a mature teenage girl helping her family in an Italian country-side farm. The setting is at once oneiric and earthy, filled with light-brimming yellows and bright honey sunlight. Through the smoothly subjective camera-movements, we see Gelsomina, at twelve years of age, and her world as an adult-driven, unfair but magical place. We follow the family’s honey-producing system and come to understand how every member of the family, especially Gelsomina, has a big responsibility in getting the job done. She helps in almost every stage of production, and her parents tease her by saying she’s the family man.
In the dead of night a group or some sort of commune arrive, searching the surrounding area for a place to rest. They come across what looks to be an unused, dilapidated house, their torches skimming across the crumbling brickwork. We then move inside where the lights seem to wake-up the building's ghosts from their slumber, a close knit family inherently connection to their land.
Time remains elusive in Alice Rohrwacher's Grand Prix winning film, a beguiling coming of age story that is rooted in the reality of familial responsibility and the enchantment of tradition. There is an established way of life out in farmers country, conventional methods that have sewn seeds of nostalgia defying change, despite the damage to…
Genuine and gracious with ever-so-sweetly observed sibling relationships. Sadly, synthetic additives better known as "complications" deflate the effect of the whole.
Maria Alexandra Lungu has a grounding grace I haven't witnessed in an actress so young since Lola Créton in BLUEBEARD.
Alice Rohrwacher’s Italian coming-of-age story is brimming with such radiance and simplistic beauty, however as a whole, the film looks pretty flimsy given by Rohwarcher’s soft handling and tepid narrative. Le Meraviglie or The Wonders follows a family of beekeepers at the countryside as they hold on in surviving family traditions, and financial challenges while instilling the simplicity of farm life. But the film’s lens is most attracted to the oldest daughter Gelsomina as she come to terms of womanhood. This is her story of struggling to find herself in the middle of her burgeoning sexuality, and finding what she really wants to do (besides switching buckets for honey and become a farmer).
Good thing is Rohwacher never gets too…
By the numbers coming of age film with some good deatails on the margins that never add to enough to rise it from generic.
Here we follow a family and particularly oldest daughter Gelso as they cope with surviving in a modern world using old methods to produce honey. On top this this, they must cope with a perpetually angry father, Wolfgang, who stands against any sort of progress. The intrusions of modern life continue as a TV reality programme arrives, looking for the best "countryside wonders" and there is a standoff between Gelso and her father on whether to enter. In truth, the film feels messy and certain storylines jar somewhat but that is offset by the easy chemistry of all the daughters, the novelty of watching bee-keepers at work and a comedy camel.
The Bee Movie 2: Hump Day
There's a scene where this girl puts her hands over her face, while a young German boy her family has temporarily adopted, in order to gain help with their honey bee laboratory, watches her. She slowly moves her hands away and a bee slowly crawls out of her mouth and up to her cheek. She smiles, bee still in place, at the boy and the boy smiles for the first time in the film. It's that easy.
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Buzz from last year's Cannes and Sofia Coppola's warm praise for this magical realist portrait of a family of beekeepers in rural Italy (between Umbria-Lazio and Tuscany) has recently elevated its international visibility. Although, I must admit, the cryptic one-paragraph synopsis didn't initially hook me. Maybe it's because I'm vegan? I don't know. Idealistically, I'm not going to object to any film about traditional farming if it's arguing more for its mood and characterization rather than political/social lecture. I think there is something genuine to be said about the preservation of a certain agrarian way of life that's important to sustaining society in general, whether it's fruit and vegetables (much-preferred), livestock, or, in this case, the supremely eco-integral honeybees.
Winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes 2014, Alice Rohrwacher's film finally gets limited theatrical distribution in the United States. A moving coming of age story that requires patience and faith, The Wonders vacillates back and forth between indelible sequences and incomprehensible ones. A less than satisfying ending.
I had forgotten to collect my thoughts on this one, but recently the estimable Mr. D'Angelo asked me why I considered The Wonders a bad film, and this jogged my memory. And, it served as values clarification. I don't really think Rohrwacher's film is bad, per se, but I do think it suffers from flaws that are significant enough to prevent it from achieving its apparent goals.
The film is organized according to a kind of dialectic, between the natural and the artificial, or "tradition" and all the things that militate against it -- government regulation, media spectacle, generational drift, and the broad indifference of the global economy. Rohrwacher inscribes all of this pretty directly into the representational strategies…
The wonders of The Wonders do not reveal themselves until the tail-end of its slice-of-life narrative of coming-of-age in the Tuscan countryside. Not until the family at the center of the film treks out to an island, clad in togas and laurel wreaths, to participate in a television show competition to crown the next “countryside wonder”, a distinction that would solve all of their financial problems. It is during this stretch of the story that magical realism creeps into the proceedings, transforming the entire affair into something marvelous.
The incremental influx of fantasy and wonderment is definitely a welcomed inclusion. Unfortunately, it is a bit too little, too late, sauntering into the dying light of a narrative stretched far too…
Ask me what I thought of The Wonders in a month, & I swear, I'll have forgotten everything about it.
Originally a list made prior to Cannes 2014, now updated every mid-April.
This is every Palme d'Or nominee since the…
Scout Tafoya of Roger Ebert.com assembled a list of the "Greatest Films Directed by Women" over on his personal blog.…