The Wonders Screen 29 articles

The Wonders

2014

The Wonders Poster
  • It isn't a bad film, in the sense that it has very particular points to make, and they are so on-the-nose that they could be graphed out via PowerPoint. But, if we are to take Rohrwacher's primary subject seriously -- that is, the open-form slice of life that is Gelsomina's coming of age and somewhat chaotic family life -- then we have to reckon with the fact that The Wonders reduces it to a symbol for "artisanal cinema," or what auteurs might make if the profit motive doesn't upset the hive.

  • The film was so lightweight that it was hard to avoid the conclusion that its Grand Prix award was due mainly to Jane Campion’s insistence on having an up-and-coming female director among the prize-winners.

  • Rohrwacher's mobile camera finds its own wonders - repeated effect: the camera pans and, in panning, ends on a close-up - though I really thought there'd be more edge, maybe some family secret (esp. when it's established that heroine and dad are very close), but there's nothing at all, except the hint that Mom and Dad are settled-down ex-radicals.

  • It’s a glancing, episodic picture, with none of the crass symbolism or stern moralism that tarred Rohrwacher’s previous effort, Corpo Celeste. A subplot involving the arrival of a sullen German foster child (Luis Huilca Logroño, looking not the least bit German; tellingly, he never speaks), taken in to provide the family with some extra income, only winds up distracting from such casual pleasures as the two smallest girls giddily splashing through puddles. A minor work, but thoroughly enjoyable.

  • As a quirky coming-of-ager with a dash of magical realism (a whistling German juvie, a pet camel) The Wonders achieves what it sets out to do and as such it will surely enhance its director's reputation, but it's too slight to make it a serious Palme d'Or contender.

  • Even though it has no business in the main competition — it’s about a poor family of beekeepers in the Italian sticks — it’s got both an earnestness and an only-in-an–Italian movie sequence featuring Monica Bellucci hosting a game show in a cave that you can’t hate.

  • The narrative is dreamlike, skipping a few links like a bike with a loose chain... But the gaps feel like gifts rather than errors, signs of respect from a director who wants to leave space for us to imagine our way into the world she creates. Like a rural Fellini, Rohrwacher mixes the mundane with the absurd to create a sometimes fabulous tale that always feels palpably real.

  • While Rohrwacher may get tripped up in narrative staging, her eye is more or less without fault... Perhaps most impressive is how the film scampers off with a ballsy close that suggests the world ends not in fire, nor ice, but with a whistle. If only Rohrwacher had rolled the dice earlier on.

  • Much of the slovenly camerawork and garbled, unmotivated editing remains, draining an already naturally lackadaisical story of any sense of urgency, but with these more forceful images Rohrwacher holds up her winsome picture at a quietly delicate place overlapping countryside farming tale, Italian cultural parody, mystical fable, and hippie commune saga.

  • Often the camera will scan across a space, taking in the many characters, but without a clear path or endpoint: what are we looking at or for? This is refreshing as a narrative approach, as Rohrwacher doesn’t seem interested in telling us what we should be thinking; rather she lets us accompany these people from one task to the next. There’s no fetishizing or romanticizing of work or youth, just a matter-of-fact, if narratively furtive, take on communal living and familial interaction.

  • Without delving into heavy-handed themes, Alice Rohrwacher makes a very interesting parallel between the children and bees. Like children, bees vanish and change their location. It is their nature to do so. Families also move elsewhere and are deeply affected by time... The fissures in time, memory and people are unavoidable. But families, just like bees, disaffected by the outside world, continue to live their life anyway.

  • The Wonders indeed has moments of small wonder, with an unassuming, rarefied beauty of life living on the edge... The film has a loose structure, its raw, documentary-style realism sometimes interrupted by dreamlike episodes (during which Monica Bellucci appears), and yet it grows into a touching portrait of pastoral existence and an honest coming-of-age tale.

  • When the family gets a chance to participate in a reality-TV competition showcasing the products of local farmers, Gelsomina begs her father, a taciturn loner, to consent. What happens is less significant than how it happens: The Wonders has an intimate, subtly buzzing power.

  • Director Alice Rohrwacher’s movie, which took the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2014, takes a long while to pick up steam, but its tactile feel for the dirt and labor of a farm, and tender regard for the young protagonist, are immensely endearing.

  • Ms. Rohrwacher’s strengths here are the tender intimacy of the performances, particularly those of the older child actors, and her gentle meandering, both narrative and cinematographic.

  • "The Wonders," about a family of rural Tuscan beekeepers dragged toward a modern urban mentality, is a throwback to different kind of filmmaking: smaller, more emotionally intense, more tactile. It's also a film in which not much "happens" in the sense that hack screenwriting books keep advising.

  • Le Meraviglie ratifies the dexterity of Rohrwacher to register, following certain motifs, the imaginaries of girls (like she did in Corpo Celeste), establishing not only correspondences between characters and desires but also building a story with good rhythm and emotion, and suggesting and sublime and melancholic outcome. Our favorite official competition film so far.

  • Shot with a documentary-like attention to detail, dreamt like a nightmare, The Wonders is an introverted film that discreetly gazes at the surface of objects and human relations to unearth the profound complexities behind them.

  • About halfway through, The Wonders defied my expectations through filmmaking choices with texture, costume, and music. I'd guess that a song in the credits is what pushed [Nicolas Winding] Refn to tears. It's a John Hughes-type cue used much more subtly than Refn's own music choices. I cried at this song because it echoed a previous scene, a perfect depiction of the pain of sisters growing apart.

  • Grounded in direct experience but alive to the unexpected, to transformative moments of revelation and unchecked (if often unspoken) emotion, The Wonders signals the maturation of a significant cinematic talent, and kudos to Jane Campion and her jury for recognizing as much.

  • ...As in Corpo Celeste, Rohrwacher conjures a richly concrete world that is nonetheless subject to the magical thinking of adolescence. The Wonders never announces its themes, which is probably one reason so many dismissed it, but it’s a film with plenty on its mind, not least the ways in which old traditions survive in the modern world, as acts of resistance or repackaged as commodities.

  • Similar to its predecessor, Corpo Celeste, an NYFF selection in 2011, The Wonders is an uncommonly graceful coming-of-age story, rooted as much in the fantastical as the material. Of its otherwordly pleasures, none is more delightful than the bizarre regional-promo spot—the filming of which Gelsomina and her sibs stumble onto after a day splashing in a lake—that spotlights Monica Bellucci in Cicciolina-like fake blonde tresses.

  • Although reserved, Gelso has a strong presence... In one powerful extended sequence, following a costly laboratory accident she has precipitated, she pushes everything out of her mind and allows her whole sense of self to pivot on the man’s response.

  • There’s so much here to remind you of the Italian neorealist pictures, particularly in Rohrwacher’s brilliant deployment of her mostly young and inexperienced cast, but it also shares an underlying magic with Grave of the Fireflies and My Neighbour Totoro, the great Studio Ghibli animations about children whose rural lives have a quiet profundity that transcends incident or plot.

  • For a country with such a rich cinematic heritage, Italy’s recent track record as far as championing emerging talent is concerned, especially of the female variety, is hardly what you might call exemplary. To that end, the continued rise of the Rohrwacher sisters comes as both a welcome tonic and the surest sign yet that the long-term future of Italian cinema is in good health.

  • Much of the film’s power comes from its embrace of the ambiguous – specifically with regard to time: this story could’ve occurred at any point in the past 50 years... In perfect harmony with itself, the film retains a documentary feel without resorting to heavy-handed vérité aesthetics. Even after multiple viewings, The Wonders remains a sumptuous, tender portrait of an era that we might already, unknowingly, have passed beyond.

  • Written out like this, the plot may sound annoyingly done-to-death in its basic thrust. However, Rohrwacher treats the material with a playfulness not too far away from that of Roy Andersson or perhaps even Fellini, and displays a keenness for revealing the petty rivalries and jealousies and growing pains of familial relations.

  • Rohrwacher has a deft way of sidling into moments of drama, aided by DP Helene Louvart’s extraordinary work, which gives actors room to breathe and images a sense of living color (shot in 16mm). Gelsomina’s inchoate understanding that she needs something more dovetails with the sense that her father’s business methods are running to the end of their shelf life, though he’s capable of a defiant fantastical gesture in the film’s increasingly dreamy final third.

  • Propelled by giddy mood swings, The Wonders weaves all this crisis into the choppy daily rhythms of a family struggling to navigate the tension between continuity and change. Rohrwacher handles her material with a richly detailed naturalism and a keen eye for the risks posed by Wolfgang's Promethean grandstanding to his children.

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