Directed by Alice Rohrwacher
Gelsomina’s family works according to some special rules. First of all, Gelsomina, at twelve years of age, is head of the family and her three younger sisters must obey her: sleep when she tells them to and work under her watchful eye. But the world, the outside, mustn’t know anything about their rules, and must be kept away from them. They must learn to disguise themselves.
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★★★★ review by Steven Sheehan on Letterboxd
In the dead of night a group or some sort of commune arrive, searching the surrounding area for a place to rest. They come across what looks to be an unused, dilapidated house, their torches skimming across the crumbling brickwork. We then move inside where the lights seem to wake-up the building's ghosts from their slumber, a close knit family inherently connection to their land.
Time remains elusive in Alice Rohrwacher's Grand Prix winning film, a beguiling coming of age story that is rooted in the reality of familial responsibility and the enchantment of tradition. There is an established way of life out in farmers country, conventional methods that have sewn seeds of nostalgia defying change, despite the damage to past, present and future it can bring.
Twelve year old Gelsomina is the heir to her families bee-hive farm, built on a daily checklist of graft. She was raised from a child to work alongside her father to sustain their bee-keeping business, a burden she is unsure about carrying. Although tender in age she already takes on the spiritual responsibility of leading the family, the eldest of four girls and the right-hand (wo)man to a father who cares deeply for his family but lacks the emotional intelligence to display it.
There is no way to place when this story takes place and that helps to enhance the mythical air that lingers at the fringe of the narrative. The entire family at once feel tangibly real, as does the push and pull of the bonds that tie them together. Each one, even the much younger energetic girls, are allowed room enough to become an important cog in understanding the dynamics of Gelso's life.
There is little fuss about Rohrwacher's approach and it will no doubt be a film that divides people between those who connect with Maria Alexandra Lungu's captivating presence and others lost without a strong enough plot. Falling into the latter category would be a shame, because it remains thematically rich, exploring teenage, communal and political ideals with apparent ease.
★★★★ review by Gui (FKA William Tell) on Letterboxd
The moments of poetry and the moments of realism blend seamlessly in Alice Rohrwacher's Le Meraviglie, a wondrous coming-of-age tale about a mature teenage girl helping her family in an Italian country-side farm. The setting is at once oneiric and earthy, filled with light-brimming yellows and bright honey sunlight. Through the smoothly subjective camera-movements, we see Gelsomina, at twelve years of age, and her world as an adult-driven, unfair but magical place. We follow the family’s honey-producing system and come to understand how every member of the family, especially Gelsomina, has a big responsibility in getting the job done. She helps in almost every stage of production, and her parents tease her by saying she’s the family man.
Although that mightn’t be true, she is definitely what holds together the entire household and she is the one who keeps it from a destructive atmosphere that creeps in every time she’s not present. Her enigmatic, relatable and almost peaceful soul is all the more amazing as Maria Alexandra Lungu, playing Gelso herself, has a soothing, unique presence. It is this magical spirit that distinguishes Le Meraviglie from other realistic portraits of decaying ways of life, and ultimately it is the wonderful aspects of the film that make it extremely memorable and personally moving.
| Direction: 8,5 | Sound: 7,5
| Screenplay: 8,0 | Editing: 8,0
| Acting: 8,5 | Entertainment: 8,5
| Visuals: 9,0 | Overall Rating: 8,3
★★★½ review by nictate on Letterboxd
Genuine and gracious with ever-so-sweetly observed sibling relationships. Sadly, synthetic additives better known as "complications" deflate the effect of the whole.
Maria Alexandra Lungu has a grounding grace I haven't witnessed in an actress so young since Lola Créton in BLUEBEARD.
★★★½ review by Mike D'Angelo on Letterboxd
A.V. Club review. Not a film that's stuck with me, I must admit, but I was pleasantly surprised by it at the time, having found Corpo celeste rather dreary.
★★★★ review by Rigo Ayala on Letterboxd
A lo fácil, sencillamente maravillosa. A lo complicado, destila la mismísima magia del séptimo arte. Ni más ni menos. Empieza como un retrato de lo atípico y deja que la fantasía más auténtica se vaya filtrando poco a poco.
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