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
Because the scenes with the bees were so delicate and required the presence of trained people when it came to handle them, all the scenes depicting the apiarist work where shot in one day with a special documentary crew. See more »
Failed portrait of Italian farm and family life, in spite of what the Cannes jury said. Too many ingredients won't make a good stew
Saw this at the Film Fest Ghent 2014, expecting something remarkable or novel, given what Cannes jury had to say about it. Alas, for me it failed on several counts, mainly because I don't think that throwing in an ample variety of ingredients does produce a good stew. It seems that the film makers tried to follow a complicated recipe, but could not come to a consistent and balanced product. The best example of something completely out of tune was the bee produced by Gelsomina out of her mouth on two occasions, the last one as part of the TV show she signed up her family for. It should be possible to find something better for this purpose, and still having a relationship with their bee keeping business where it was all about.
The synopsis on the festival website stated that Gelsomina was the center of the bee keeping business, and particularly the honey extraction process, but I found that not so clearly shown while watching the movie. Yet she is mentioned several times as "head of the family", while all signs seem to point in different directions. Also, when the boy Martin is introduced, everyone points to Gelsomina as the responsible person, and again I don't understand as it is the father who introduced the boy in the first place. I apparently did miss something important.
An annoying aspect of this movie is that it happened a few times that the scenery jumped to several hours later in time, without being clear about the change. For example: after the day that the boy was lost on the island, we suddenly see Gelsomina in action on the farm, requiring us to take some time noticing we are at a different time and place now, and adjust our focus accordingly. It happened to me several times, but this was the most prominent occurrence that I still remember.
While this film's Grand Prize of the Cannes jury rises expectations, I'm disappointed because of my overall feelings that the end product is not in any way remarkable, all things considered. It happened many times before that I didn't agree with festival juries, however, so this may become a fact of (my) life. It may be so that the jury admired the portraying of life on a farm, being a non-issue for me grown up on a farm myself. So all the tedious tasks and the inherent dangers in animals and machinery were merely deja-vu for me, nothing out of the ordinary. Similarly, the mixed household and the assortment of very different people having to work together, is normal on a farm and standard operating procedure. In other words, I'm prejudiced in duplicate, on one hand to find something that the Cannes jury found remarkable, on the other hand seeing a portrait of farming that offers nothing special for me. I'm inclined to forget about the jury and let aforementioned faults weigh in to arrive at a negative conclusion.
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