Thirteen year-old Marta has recently moved back to southern Italy with her mother and older sister and struggles to find her place, restlessly testing the boundaries of an unfamiliar city and the catechism of the Catholic church.
Set deep in the south of Italy, Corpo Celeste is the story of 13 year old Marta who is struggling to resettle after ten years growing up in Switzerland. Bright-eyed and restless, she observes the sights, sounds and smells of the city but feels very much an outsider. Marta is about to undergo the rite of confirmation. In the convention of the Catholic Church she takes catechism but confronts the morality of the local Catholic community. A series of subtle moments trace her journey as she connects and conflicts with her mother, sister and the Sunday school teacher Santa. From experiencing her period to making a bold decision to cut her hair, Marta begins to shape her own life for the first time since moving back to Italy. Corpo Celeste heralds the arrival of a young and distinctive voice. Alice Rohrwacher's writing and directing debut is a sensitive unveiling of the moral and religious layers that can smother adolescence.Written by
B&W Films Ltd
While harshly critical of the deadening effects of religious dogmatism director Alice Rohrwacher is never crudely so. She manages to inject some level of sympathy for the abusive catechism teacher as well as the careerist priest while having the most negative person be the very secular, cruelly teasing older sister of the main character. I also like how the film's dramatics never veer into histrionics. In other words, Rohrwacher has a steady, controlling hand, for me a sure sign of a good film maker. Another indication is her ability to coax an amazingly fine performance from a child actor as she does here with Yie Vianello as the traumatized yet rebellious 13 year old Marta. I hope to see more of this fine director's work as well as Vianello's subsequent film, "Sow The Wind". Give it an A minus. (Why not an A? Well, for one, I would have liked more of an examination of why Marta's dad ignores her and prefers the horrendous older sister. And for another I wanted to know why Marta's family had to move from Switzerland to Calabria which, on the trauma scale, is like going from Boulder Colorado to Greenville Mississippi.)
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