Thursday, September 11, 2014


Corpo Celeste (2011) - Rohrwacher
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Drawing from her childhood experiences, Alice Rohrwacher makes a delicate, affecting coming-of-age film. Martha (Yle Vianello), a fair skinned 13 yr-old girl, is about to hit puberty. She has been secretly wearing her older sister's bras. She and her family just arrived from living in Switzerland. At home, with her single mom always out working and her pretty, domineering 18 yr-old sister ever present, Martha is left to her devices, wondering wintry small coastal town by herself.

A girl with serious disposition, Martha challenges happy-go-lucky aesthetics of the church and asks tough questions: what does Eli, eli, sabahktani mean, to a non-commital, frivolous teacher. On the faithful day of the communion, finding box full of kittens in the storage of the parish while preparing for the big communion celebration, and parish workers' cruel decision to dispose them sends Martha to a wild goose chase through the town and leads her lost in the busy motorway. Mario, a stern priest who lost his way by his own ambition, spots Martha and picks her up. He has to pick up an old cross from his old parish, up in the mountains and back before the ceremony. It becomes a spiritual journey of sorts for both.

Rohrwacher proves herself as a fine observer of human emotions. No one in Corpo Celeste is entirely evil. However imperfect and cruel they seem to be, there is a side to each that is undeniably human. In the confines of a very religious, working class community, those small desires, jealousy, envy, solitude, Rohrwacher captures them with much compassion. She has a sharp eye for composition too. Beautiful grainy 16mm is lovely.

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