Le meraviglie Germany, Italy, Switzerland 2014 – 110min.
Ombria, Italy. In an isolated village, towards the end of the summer, a family of beekeepers who lives on a run-down farm stands the test of time. Convinced the end of the world is coming soon, the father forbids his three daughters to mix in the modern world in favor of communing with nature. But the eldest, Gelsomina, is stronger. The arrival of Martin, a young delinquent in a rehabilitation exchange program, and the shoot of a televised game called “Countryside Wonders”, is about to turn the family’s life upside down.
When Jane Campion awarded the Grand Prize of Cannes 2014 to Alice Rohrwacher for The Wonders, the reasoning behind it was hard to decipher. Quintessentially an auteur film that is celebrated by reflex, this second movie by the director of Corpo celeste was received coldly by some of the media, who remained unmoved – or rather annoyed – by this family fable with poetic accents. With some distance, it still doesn’t spark much. Because she forces too many narrative elements together with neither magic nor mastery, Rohrwacher, who directs her sister Alba, creates an odd sense of apathy. The Wonders hesitates, inching along without risking an in-depth look at the violence or sadness of its characters, condemned to stumble about through a story that lacks harmony. For added spice, it has Monica Bellucci as a fairy tale TV hostess. In the final analysis, the director demonstrates a certain savoir-faire for filming the facts of life, whether they are beautiful or tragic.