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
As anyone who has seen "The Wonders" or "Happy as Lazzaro" will know Alice Rohrwacher is one of the marvels of contemporary cinema. "Corpo Celeste" is her lesser-known, but no less astonishing, debut made with an almost documentary realism as we get to know the world through the eyes of 13 year old Marta as she comes to terms with growing up. Unlike other girls her age, however, Marta is subjected to perhaps a little more religious education than is usual as she prepares for her confirmation. This is Catholic Italy, after all.
Like Lazzaro, Marta is possessed of an innocence that is almost other-worldly. She might like to wear her big sister's bra but she's also remarkably childlike; Rohrwacher does innocence like no-one else. She also imbues her film with a nice sense of humour, even bordering on the cynical, (the priest whose ringtone on his mobile is 'The Minute Waltz' is both ambitious and something of a prig and is magnificently played by the late Salvatore Cantalupo). Indeed, Rohrwacher draws wonderfully naturalistic performances from her entire cast and in particular from Yie Vianello as Marta. In fact, "Corpo Celeste" isn't just a superb debut but one of the best films about both childhood and religion I've ever seen. With only three features to her name, Rohrwacher may just be my favourite director right now.
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