Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Camel in My Backyard

Le Meraviglie/The Wonders (2014) - Rohrwacher
 photo 0349f295-57c3-4244-babc-091199944f05_zps94a9b856.jpg
Just like her debut film Corpo Celeste, Alice Rohrwacher deals with an eccentric German-Italian working class family in Le Meraviglie (The Wonders). The story centers around Gelsomina, the oldest of the 4 young daughters in a beekeeper household. By how these rambunctious girls are treated by their disheveled, bug eyed, stressed out dad Wolfgang (excellent Sam Louwyck), it is pretty clear that they are the result of daddy and mommy (played by Alba Rohrwacher, the director's older sister) tried and failed to conceive a son. Gelso is a heir apparent to her father's business, as she accompanies him in his daily operations. Even though she is always a child in her daddy's eyes, she is growing up and it's pretty obvious that she doesn't want to be a farmer. Two events rock her world - there is 'village wonders' contest hosted by beautiful and glamorous local TV personality Milly (Monica Bellucci) where people showcase their farm products to win money. And the appearance of Martin, a young, troubled, almost mute German boy the family decided to foster for money. While Wolfgang is distracted and enchanted by the young boy whom he can put to work, Gelso secretly enrolls the family business to the contest.

Rohrwacher observes this chaotic family with much warmth and care. It turns out that the brutish dad actually loves his family deeply. He just wants to protect them at all cost from the end of days. He is just nutty that way. Kinky haired, even tempered mom is the bedrock of the family that everyone gravitates to. Gelso's chubby younger sister Marinella is one of those dreamer siblings, not made for the real world. Then there are two young runts, who gets into everything and everywhere, screaming their lungs out most of the time. Add to the mix is Coco (wiry Sabine Timoteo), another cooky German transplant who helps around the house and butt heads with Wolfgang. And there are real life wonders, all around Gelso's life, from Martin's magical whistling to presence of a camel in the back yard to white haired Milly to bees in her mouth. Rohrwacher reminds us that whatever the circumstances we are in, life is filled with full of wonders. Le Meraviglie deserves all the recent accolades.

The Wonders plays as part of NYFF 2014, on Oct.3 & 4. For more info, please visit FSLC website.