Monday, 24 August 2015

REVIEW - THE WONDERS (ALICE ROHRWACHER)


A quiet little revolution, or an unassuming silent protest. It's an unexpected treat, to feel like you're witnessing something this fresh, when in fact it's as traditional as filmmaking gets. Alice Rohrwacher returns to rurality in The Wonders, a film of lulling beauty and charming, though not contrived simplicity. She recalls a way of life that is receding from the western world, and does so with a faintly nostalgic joy and sensitivity; simultaneously, she depicts encroaching modernity with a gleeful tackiness, one which she seems to imbue with almost equal artistic credence. Like Gelsomina, her enigmatic, wise young protagonist, Rohrwacher is torn between her love for one thing and her desire for another, yet her optimistic, emotionally-astute style of directing mitigates the melancholy with good-humoured grace. The Wonders is thus an enjoyable, affecting experience, whose emotive power is wholly earned, both through the quality of the direction and through the honest empathy of the screenplay. And even if it doesn't touch you as it touched me, even if its absurd strokes struck you as silly and its profound ones struck you as shallow, there's limitless beauty to behold in the glowing cinematography and the authentic production design. The landscape is crucial to The Wonders, whether natural or not, and perhaps most crucial of all to the success of Rohrwacher's conceit is the connection she ably forms between her characters and their surroundings, their lifestyle and that of the world they situate it in. The film doesn't so much suggest going back to nature, rather it lauds the cultivation of our role within nature. It's a lifestyle that she reconstructs, then swiftly deconstructs, and the result is a fleeting glimpse of magic.