CANNES 2018: HAPPY AS LAZZARO BY ALICE ROHRWARCHER

This entry was posted on May 14th, 2018

By Mónica Delgado

Like in Le Meraviglie, Young Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher chooses the fantastic tone for a social parable, but here as a critique of capitalist estates, represented by the hand of an old monarchy that turns farmers into slaves trapped in time. The view of this world of simulations and all shires in a century of changes in the work field, is written from the point of view of a young man, free of all evil, the Lazzaro of the title, that becomes the scapegoat of the being that will concatenate in an imaginative way two times and spaces in an arcade of alienation without utopias.

Rohrwacher’s bet is not only condensated in how she articulates the elements to achieve a fable of movements, the passing of time and the immutability of some characters in this transit, but in the registry and texture of 16mm that propitiate yesteryear climates, of fields and mansions stuck in time, of a bucolic world that in its first part looks perfect for the communal and farm life, with space for the irruption of magical events. Then, in a turn of the screw, proposes to travel through time and find the same characters in a current Italy. The interesting part of this temporal game is that it allows the possibility to avenge the first part of the film, meaning that, it allows the farmers which are deceived and forced to live in a pre-modern arcadia to make some decisions to collect the economic and moral debts with their exploiters. However, alienation imposes and Lazzaro embodies the possibility of denying freedom, despite the oppression. That’s where the bitter, disenchanted touch of this film comes through, a film that looks to be a favorite for the Golden Palm.

Rohrwacher’s story has its greatest achievement on how she picks up some true facts and transform then in these temporal games, and also in the design of the performance and trademark she chose for the young Lazzaro (the character played by Adriano Tardiolo): impassivity and sanctity or overwhelming goodness, a character that goes through the world showing his lack of expression like he was a human version of the bressonian Balthazar, a character who is taken advantage of, and the victim of blame.

For the characters of Inviolata, the estate that kept them living for years in the pre industrial revolution lie seems to be the only way of salvation. A harsh parable.

Official Competition
Directing and script: Alice Rohrwacher
Cinematography: Hélène Louvart
Editing: Nelly Quettier
Production desing: Emita Frigato
Cast: Adriano Tardiolo, Agnese Graziani, Luca Chikovani
Italy, 2018, 125 minutes