Entrenched in a small village in Italy’s Umbria region, under the close supervision of her protective father, young Gelsomina sees little of the outside the world. She doesn’t ask too many questions, either. On the farm where she lives with her young and sisters and her parents she helps out in the family’s beekeeping business. Her fate appears sealed. And yet, two events will soon inject some much-needed chaos: her family hosts a young man who’s right out of juvie, as part of a social rehabilitation program, and a reality show comes to the area to do an on-site taping.

Distributed by Oscilloscope Pictures here in the U.S.

Despite obtaining the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014 THE WONDERS (LE MERAVIGLIE in the original Italian title), directed by Alice Rorhwacher (Alba Rohrwacher’s younger sister) is a bit of a fail, much to my disappointment, on account of a badly-administered first half of the movie. It’s just too long. Sure, Rohrwacher manages perfectly to convey the repetitive nature of farm living and brings forth interesting characters, like the father, a kind of Parenting Magazine übermensch (to his family, at least) who is deadset on recreating a utopian world albeit one that is hardly compatible with reality. But once the key aspects of the story are introduced, what follows (additional aspects of farm, Gelsomina’s interaction with new events and people which make her realize that there is another life out there) soon becomes tiresome. You’re waiting for something to happen!

Alba Rohrwacher has had a long and notable career as an actress. She appeared in 2010’s THE SOLITUDE OF PRIME NUMBERS, among many other notable films

Screen shot of the film's site

Screen shot of the film’s site

I spent some time on the film’s site, which is fun to navigate. Le Meraviglie movie site

Fortunately, things soon take on a new turn. An accident, a bucket that won’t get replaced, a camel in the Italian countryside, a super-bad reality TV show being taped nearby with characters that makes Kim Kardashian look like a national chapter of Mensa all by herself. This humoristic and goofy chain of sweetly surprising events push THE WONDERS, and the viewer, to the borders of fantasy as we’re made to peer into a world that’s as far from the father’s ridiculous worldview as it is from reality. Second half of THE WONDERS — that’s where the magic happens. More than a film about the tedious nature of life on a farm, the vulgarization of the world we live in, blinding utopias or the purity of childhood, towards its ending THE WONDERS in fact becomes an urgent and touching work on the need expressed by a young girl to break free from her parents’ yoke.

THE WONDERS came out October 30, 2015 (source: Boxoffice Mojo). You can follow Ali Naderzad here


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