4 December 2018 | gortx
Rohrwacher's fantastic fable about the Wolf at the door
Loosely inspired by a true story of Italian farmers who were forced into near sharecropper conditions by the De Luna family in an isolated village, Alice Rohrwacher's HAPPY AS LAZZARO takes a fantastical approach to the material. The early scenes of the workers toiling to get by in the hamlet is, like Rohrwacher's previous THE WONDERS (bee farmers), full of attention to detail - both visually and aurally (the sounds of the wind and the distant howls of wild animals become their own soundtrack).
The screenplay (a winner at Cannes) becomes a fable as it moves along. The peasants eventually settle into the city - but, their lives at the bottom of the run continue. A hearty band, led by Antonia (a superb Alba Rohrwacher, the Director's sister) struggles to survive in the modern world. As fate would have it, they cross paths with the remnants of the De Luna clan. Throughout all this, is Lazzaro (Adriano Tardiolo). A sort of benighted Forrest Gump figure, Lazzaro drifts among the characters blissfully unaware of the darkness around him.
Rohrwacher's fantasy elements (THE WONDERS also had a few), gives the film (shot on 16mm) a different perspective. The symbolism doesn't always fully connect, but, you never doubt that her vision isn't firmly conceived. One thought becomes clear and lingers in the mind: The wolf may be at the door, but, who is the wolf?