Sonntag, 6. Juli 2014

Filmfest München: Le meraviglie (The Wonders)

"Le meraviglie (The Wonders)", the story of a beekeeping family in rural Italy, is a marvelous achievement in writing, direction, performance and design. Whether in its depiction of father-daughter relationship or a young sisterhood, the script is penned with an ingrained understanding of and the utmost tenderness for all that makes the familial bond dear, maddening, irreplaceable. Breathing authenticity, immediacy and a palpable warmth throughout, it rivets and delights no end. Particularly, by never fully explaining the composition of the household in question, it affords its protagonists a convincing complexity and unknowability inherent to every family history. And by describing the sometimes silly gestures of love like a parent's idea of a great gift to his child, it makes the whole bittersweet dynamic come alive.

The actors, down to the ancient singing grandmas, are well cast. Monica Bellucci in disco-Goddess mode gives the scenes of the glitzy variety show that all-decisive push into neon paradise and it's fabulous. In a limited role, Alba Rohrwacher is her usual faultless dreamy self and provides the movie with a soulful anchor. The true stars of the film, however, are Maria Alexandra Lungu and Agnese Graziani, who play the sensitive, perceptive teenager and her chubby, gloriously happy little sister. It's a pair of beautifully unaffected, lived-in performances that never ring false and make up a harmonious dance.

Director Alice Rohrwacher succeeds not only in telling a story with great narrative fluency but shows an unerring aesthetic sense as well. The film looks amazing with its retro set pieces and a faded, weighted texture reminiscent of old photo albums. As exemplified by the opening and closing sequences, it's also often framed in dazzling, suggestive compositions bordering on the mythical. In a combination of both these talents, a fire-lit, dialogue-free scene near the end plays boldly with the disappointment of reality and the redemptive power of imagination. It's a scene of childlike wonder conducted by the most mature hand, an absolute winner.

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