A family of beekeepers living in the Tuscan countryside finds their household disrupted by the simultaneous arrival of a silently troubled teenage boy and a reality TV show intent on showcasing the family.
Gelsomina's family functions according to very particular rules. First of all, Gelsomina, at twelve years of age, practically runs the family. Her three younger sisters obey her and work under her watchful eye. But the outside world mustn't know anything about their lifestyle, and they should be kept away from it, well-protected in their isolated countryside home. Gelsomina's father, Wolfgang, is a foreigner and Gelsomina is the future queen of this strange and improbable kingdom he has constructed for them. A male heir would have been better, of course, but Gelsomina is strong and determined and what's more, she has a special talent for beekeeping and making honey. It's Gelsomina that retrieves the swarms from the trees, who organizes the honey extraction, and she is the one that carries the hives. Whilst all around them the countryside is being burnt up by pesticides, rural life is falling apart and becoming something different, a TV show competition arrives from the city offering a...Written by
Chanelling both Olmi and Fellini, Alice Rohrwacher's "The Wonders" represents Italian cinema at its best. Like Olmi's "Tree of Wooden Clogs" or more recently, Frammartino's "Le Quattro Volte" it's another classic picture of rural life with a touch of late Fellini thrown in, (in the form of the slightly surreal television competition that gives the film its name).
It's about a family of bee-keepers, struggling to make a living in Etruscany. The German father is something of a wastrel, the mother has mostly given up and it's left to the oldest daughter to hold things together. The writer and director Alice Rohrwacher, it was only her second feature film, neither romanticises or sentimentalises their situation and the film works both as a rural idyll and another wonderful addition to the cinema of childhood, (the adults seem to be figures in the background). Intelligent and very moving.
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