Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher uniquely examines the tender trials of being an 11-year-old female in “The Wonders” through the lens of a family of beekeepers struggling to make a living in the Tuscan countryside. The storyline is original and strangely dramatic, but also very innocent in its trepidation towards the harsh terms of reality. Rohrwacher employs slow and surreal shots to immerse the viewer in the setting as well as the characters, making this Cannes Grand Prix-winning film one worth experiencing.
The young protagonist is Gelsomina (Maria Lungu), an 11-year-old girl beginning to experience the confusion of being an adolescent. Although her father, Wolfgang, views her as a child, she is simultaneously given a ridiculous amount of responsibility – taking care of her sisters and working in the dangerous family business. When a reality TV show rolls into the countryside, searching for the new agrarian wonder of the Etruscan region.
Rohrwacher’s examination of this confusing age is one that is poignant; audiences are rarely exposed to cinema realistically displaying the true inner conflict pre-teen girls undergo.The film artfully depicts the distance that grows between a father and a daughter as she explores womanhood and he continues to view her as a child; the way in which Rohrwacher handles the camera allows us to apprehend this from individual perspectives.
Gelsomina is not the only star of this film. It features a cast of complex and fresh characters. Particularly notable is Sam Louwyk’s portrayal of the patriarch, Wolfgang, whose relentless idealism makes him endearing. Another notable performance is by Sabine Timoteo, who plays Coco, who joins the family after being adopted. Her mischievousness is infectious and acts as a form of comedic relief in the film’s darker moments.
The countryside, the sea and the bees are all incredibly visceral in this film. “The Wonders” is not incredibly exciting and fast-paced, but will leave audiences with inexplicable contentment.
“The Wonders” opens on Oct. 30 at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas on the West Side.
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