Lazzaro Felice / Happy as Lazzaro
Alice Rohrwacher – Italy
IN A NUTSHELL
Lazzaro (Adriano Tardiolo), is a young peasant so good that he is often mistaken for simple-minded, who makes a new friend called Tancredi (Luca Chikovani), a young nobleman cursed by his imagination. Life in their isolated village Inviolata is dominated by the terrible Marchesa Alfonsina de Luna (Nicoletta Braschi), known as the queen of cigarettes, but their friendship seems strong enough to survive. A loyal bond is sealed when Tancredi asks Lazzaro to help him orchestrate his own kidnapping. The pair will become separated, but Lazzaro’s loyalty will withstand the test of time when he is catapulted alone into a bleak metropolis. (by Bianca Garner)
“Director Alice Rohrwacher, a rising talent, is careful and deliberate in her choices and they come together in this beautiful parabolic drama. Her film explores the concept of goodness and its place in our collective morality via the titular character and his experience in a world inherently fraught with deception.” – – – – – Zoe Tamara, The Upcoming
“Earthy folkloric storytelling, time-traveling magical realism and fact-inspired social issue drama are fused in its tale of a rural innocent defying life’s certainties to bear witness to two separate eras of social and economic exploitation. The result is a slow but bewitching burn that rewards viewers’ patience with humor and uncanny grace, sealing Rohrwacher’s status as a truly distinctive European major.” – – – – – Guy Lodge, Variety
“Artfully playing on spatial and temporal dislocation, with anachronism aplenty, the film benefits from its extraordinary rocky, ravine-riddled landscapes, constrasting with the urban deserts of the second half. Beautifully shot, like Rohrwacher’s other features, on Super-16, this film, with its richly textured images, does indeed feel at times like a retrieved and rather miraculous relic from a lost era of cinema, which is not to say that it isn’t of its own moment. – – – – – Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily
There were mutterings of Alice Rohrwacher’s strong chances to win big in this year’s Cannes even before the festival began. And not just because she is one of the three female filmmakers in the competition, but because her fable was one of the more anticipated and unusual films to look out for. And the Italian’s last film The Wonders was the Grand Prize winner in 2014 – one of the best years for films competing I might add.
So Alice Rohrwacher has been one of the popular names trending leading up to the festival, and the Cannes premiere demonstrated a terrific reaction. That said, critics all over the place are screaming Palme d’Or, when really you ought to be looking at the prospect of back-to-back wins for a female Best Director. There’s no other film quite in this vein at the festival, and Rohrwacher is getting some hefty praise. An enlightening choice though amidst the politics, any of the three top prizes is hard to go against.