The Wonders (12A)

Directed by Alice Rohwacher
Picturehouse, Liverpool
31st July - 6th August 2015

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

The Wonders centres on the dying away of a type of life in rural Italy, namely Tuscany, before commerce with a capital C takes over people's lives.

It features a host of young actors, notably the charismatic and angelic-looking Maria Alexandra Lungu, who plays the twelve-year-old Gelsomina, one of four daughters of the patriarch of the family, German Wolfgang (Sam Louwyck) and French mum Angelica (Alba Rohrwacher) , sister of director Alice.

The family's principal source of income - and the most labour intensive by all the family - from the oldest to the youngest - all the kids play a vital role in keeping their farm functioning as best they can - is their apiary, which has nearly fifty beehives.

Gelsomina, the oldest of the sisters, is the apple of his eye of her dad, acts more mature than her tender years and serves as his most diligent helper on the farm, even assuming more responsibility in work-related tasks than Angelica.

The scenes of the collecting of honey from the beehives are beautiful to behold, as well as the changing weather patterns, scorching sun, fierce rain and gales, as the seasons gradually change.

it is hard to determine the period of time in which the film is set, which adds to the mystical aspect almost apparent throughout. With no hint at all of digital technology I would guess it is based in the pre-1980s.

But in contradiction to that assertion is the ugly appearance of reality television Italian style, in the form of a programme titled Countryside Wonders, which is seeking to make the countryside more tourist-friendly at the expense of the inhabitants who have lived there for many generations.

This is only the second narrative feature, - her first Corpo Celeste also featured a number of young actors,- by Alice Rohwacher - but there is a majestic feel and utter believability about this naturalistic story and the highly impressive acting by all who took part.

NERVE supports workers struggling for a living wage.

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