THE WONDERS (Italy/Switzerland/Germany/Club/110mins) Directed by Alice Rohrwacher. Starring Alba Rohrwacher, Maria Alexandra Lungu, Sam Louwyck, Sabine Timoteo, Agnese Graziani, Monica Bellucci, Andre Hennicke, Eva Lea Pace Morrow, Maris Stella Morris, Luis Huilca. THE PLOT: Like so much traditional Tuscan living, the family of teenager Gelsomina (Lungu) are struggling to keep food on the table. Their main source of income is the family apiary, run by the man of the house, Wolfgang (Louwyck), with his faithful assistant, Gelsomina, always by his side. The two have a special bond, but their relationship becomes strained when Gelsomina secretly enters the family business into a TV talent show, Countryside Wonders – hosted by the beautiful Milly (Belucci). Could fame somehow save the family home…?
THE VERDICT: There’s much to ponder in Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher’s deceptively footloose and fancy free feature, from country living to family affairs, from barely living off the land to the faux philanthopy of the TV camera. That Rohrwacher (who made her debut with 2011’s CORPO CELESTE/HEAVENLY BODY) makes it all seem haphazard and incidental makes The Wonders all the more wonderful. There’s nothing laboured here, nothing burdened by pop video exclamation marks. You can take it all as fly-on-the-wall, or you can dig deeper, and see the world’s state-of-play.
The cast are wonderful, and the script a delight, but it’s Helene Louvart’s stunning cinematography that truly seduces here. RATING: 4/5 Review by Paul Byrne