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Corpo celeste (2011)
Beautifully acted, but hard to interpret
While I loved the nuanced and sensitive performance of Yle Vianello as Marta, I couldn't help but feel that writer/director Alice Rohrwacher's portrayal of the Catholic church in Corpo Celeste was an overdrawn caricature that only reinforced the usual stereotypes against institutional religion. In contrast, the almost intuitive spirituality Marta possesses of gentleness towards others, wonder at creation, curiosity about the world + its people, reverence for the divine those elements could have been connected to broad Christian doctrines of natural revelation, love for neighbor, and the work of the Spirit, but they were not. Though the ending makes Marta's journey beyond the film feel uncertain, somehow I'm convinced (if it is possible to extrapolate) that Marta will be ultimately alright in the end. She may not find truth in the unfortunate parish she finds herself in, but she's much closer to the Truth than almost everyone else in the film. We see this in the innocent delight over the kittens that she joyfully shares with her classmates. We see this in her desire to understand the phrase from her catechism recitation "Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani?" which she goes around repeating to herself without knowing the meaning. This forsaken uttering of Christ on the cross ironically rings quite true in Marta's life as she is mistreated by those in church leadership, cruelly bullied by her older sister, and witnesses powerlessly the brutal killing of the kittens. In spite of all the hypocrisy and vacuity of the parish, when Marta finds herself next to a huge dusty crucifix in a forsaken little village church, she instinctively uses her hands and shirt sleeve to gently and reverently wipe the dirt off the body of Christ. Somehow, in spite of it all, a real spirituality and an intimate relationship with Christ has been apprehended.