By Mónica Delgado
The arcade is frequented by an adolescent girl, despite that both parents, both beekeepers which make the best honey in town, establish their own rules and habits. This girl, about fourteen years old, takes the control of the house, and archetypical family space life with specific routines, receiving the affection of her ill-tempered and bossy father, the advice of the sweet mother, the caring of the irreverent aunt and the naïve games of the three younger sisters. As if it were a bucolic world of organized work in the middle of the field, in a sort of voluntary isolation where only the beehives, honey and bees exist, Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher presents the surroundings of Gelsomina, that shares very little with the famous fellinian character, and who turns in the sublimation gaze of this pacific life where maturity roles are taken over before time.
Le Meraviglie is the story of a memory; meaning that from the initial minutes, the filmmaker establishes an entrance to this world by crossing the threshold of a house in the middle of the field, while two policemen carry out a search at midnight. Despite the exterior noise, the family stays asleep, as if it were a door opening to a new dimension, which the spectator can enter with familiarity, to then know part of the routine of a common day of farm work. Rohrwacher opts for Gelsomina’s gaze, in her role of laborious bee, which keeps control of the labor, knows the schedules, likes and affinities, in an intimate mise en scene, that never distances itself from the registry of the actions of work, far from the television or any time of leisure. The arrival of a kid delivered by law under the norms of a surrogate family gives way to a new “division of labor” but also brings up the signing up to a contest for the most marvelous family of the field. Both events are the triggers of liberation for this ghetto family.
The best achievement of this second film by Rohrwacher is its atmosphere and actor direction, centered in a feminine world that for moments isn’t extent of that fellinian magic, that barges in that naturalism that describes the familiar surroundings of the beginning. For example, Mónica Belluci appears as an eccentric TV host, which promotes the contest of working families, hosting a show under a peculiar roman mythology theme. Her apparition serves as contrast with the limited space of home, which under pressure will open itself outside its limits, reflecting what means to go beyond those dreamy barriers.
Le Meraviglie ratifies the dexterity of Rohrwacher to register, following certain motifs, the imaginaries of girls (like she did in Corpo Celeste), establishing not only correspondences between characters and desires but also building a story with good rhythm and emotion, and suggesting and sublime and melancholic outcome. Our favorite official competition film so far.
Director: Alice Rohrwacher
Cast: Monica Bellucci, Alba Rohrwacher, Sabine Timoteo, Sam Louwyck
Script: Alice Rohrwacher
Cinematography: Hélène Louvart