Chronicle Sitges 2018: “Happy Lazzaro” saint without network
It turned out to be one of the unexpected surprises that the Festival de Cannes 2014 brought us. It did not fit into most of the pools for the final record and we have to confess it, not in ours either. However, Alice Rohrwacher was confirmed against all odds as a new voice to follow very closely thanks to the creative and sensitive display that gave us her wild and Fellinian “The Land of Wonders” , a film of overwhelming beauty recognized with the Grand Prize of the Jury that achieved the difficult consensus between critics and the public. Capital work that has led us to wait with the highest expectations “Lazzaro Feliz” , a new proposal from the Italian director that was for many what should have been the Palme d’Or but it was not.
What is it?
In a timeless epoch, in a remote village in Italy, lives Lazzaro, a young peasant whose goodness all his inhabitants take advantage of. One summer, Lazzaro establishes a friendship with the arrogant Tancredi, son of the Marchioness who owns the lands cultivated by the peasants of the Inviolata. This friendship will take you on a journey through time, to the heart of the modern world.
Throughout her brief career, the work of Alice Rohrwacher has distinguished herself by describing the goodbye of rural life. With the revealing “Corpo Celeste” (2011) she won the David Donatello Award nomination for Best New Director, with “El País de las Maravillas” (2014) she won the Grand Jury Prize in Cannes and “Lazzaro Feliz” could very well Take this 2018 to the Palme d’Or.
Who goes out?
Despite the fact that in the excellent cast we find very recognizable faces such as his sister Alba Rohrwacher or the Catalan Sergi López , the real star of the show is the non-professional actor Adriano Tardiolo, a non-professional actor who plays Lazzaro and that he did not decide to participate in the film until the end of the rehearsal, even though he was chosen, since the young man wanted to become physically familiar with the character before making his decision. His decisively Bressonian interpretation, in which barely a word, is extraordinary.
What is it?
“Pinocchio” + “Los Santos Inocentes” + “Tropical Malady”
What does it offer?
Alice Rohrwacher tells us that for the plot of “Lazzaro Feliz” she was inspired by a surprising real fact: the story of a marchioness who took advantage of the isolation of her numerous properties to hide her peasants, whom she had directly enslaved, who belonged to a new civilization in which work is exchanged for money. These are the surprisingly real events that serve as a starting point for this sort of cross between a fairy tale and a social fable with an anti-capitalist heart. A sample of magical realism and unclassifiable religious supernature at all levels, which as already happened with its predecessor “The Land of Wonders”, is on the way between dreaming and reality, although in this case go a step further there in terms of risk and originality. “Lazzaro Feliz” is first of all a leap without a network that demonstrates the security that its intrepid director herself has. A film divided into two abruptly differentiated parts, a break as radical as unexpected, among whose possible echoes and referents I only dare to point out “Tropical Malady”. In fact, we are talking about a proposal that does not shake the hand when eroding the logic of time and space, and that far from failing in the attempt, it ends up taking off and flying high.
And is that although both sides are clearly different by wrapping the first of a rural world (which is shot with a sensitivity and a beauty before which it is impossible not to fall enraptured), the second of the urban (this is where it arrives the bewilderment, and I say it as a virtue, not as a defect), Rohrwacher does not fall into the foreseeable recurrence of confronting both universes to claim the luminosity that concerns one and the darkness that surrounds the other. Rather the opposite, what it does is to equate them. Far from idealizing the natural context as one might expect, life remains just as oppressed, both in the wild universe and in the big city. From feudalism to capitalism, more of the same. Two universes complemented by multiple leaks that dislodge as much as they stimulate, turns that first of all reveal that we are facing a director who risks each of the decisions she makes, basically because she seems to be clear that her irrepressible imagination is unparalleled time to surprise and ultimately dazzle the viewer. Filmed like its predecessors in 16 mm, “Lazzaro Feliz” is a film of lush texture that once seen, its attributes could well present all the necessary credentials to fall into the bizarre but that nevertheless, has the strange ability to convert the confusion in fascination, the recklessness in prodigal and ultimately, in what should have been a well-deserved Golden Palm. What is yours is magic. Never better said, it is the hand of a saint.