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.
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.
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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
'Certe cose non si possono comprare'. 'Certain things you can't buy'. It's not often that one line from the script summarizes the whole film. But when the beekeeper Wolfgang speaks these words, he explains exactly what this film is about.
'Le Meraviglie' shows the life of a family of Italian beekeepers, intent on living a simple, rural, pure life, without any harmful influences from the outside world. Father Wolfgang and mother Angelica raise their four daughters according to strict rules: no television, no fancy clothes, no luxury. They have trouble making ends meet, and the father is a demanding man, who lets the children work in the honey-making business as if they were grown-ups. This is not a happy family: the father is ill-tempered and the mother is worried about the financial difficulties they have to cope with.
When the oldest daughter decides to participate in a contest for regional agricultural products, the family is forced to enter a world of commercial marketing and fancy promotion. This is the moment when the father tells a television show hostess that certain things are impossible to buy. He doesn't say what exactly, but it's clear what he means: integrity, purity, simplicity, and authenticity.
This is not a plot-driven film. It shows the confrontation between ideals and constraints, between dreams and reality. The film maker doesn't take sides. The commercial contest, representing the modern world, is ridiculous because of its slick sales pitch. But the life on the farm, representing tradition, is not happy and carefree either.
'Le Meraviglie' is filmed in an unpolished, realistic style, almost like a documentary, with bright lighting and hand-held cameras. The undisputed star of the film is the young actress playing the oldest daughter, an innocent girl who seems torn between loyalty towards her father and despise for his strict rules.
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