‘The Wonders’ is transcendent

The Wonders Film Poster

The Wonders
Directed by Alice Rohrwacher
Italy, 2014

Gelsomina (Maria Alexandra Lungu) is a 12 year-old head of household in a family of beekeepers. Her father Wolfgang (Sam Louwyck) keeps a tight watch on the business in their isolated plot of land in the Tuscan region. Two new events – the arrival of a reality TV show, and of a young boy, Martin (Luis Huilca) – change her world dramatically.

The opening of Alice Rohrwacher’s transcendent film is at once beautifully disjointed and metaphorical. A group of hunters move through the pitch-blackness only to suddenly and surprisingly come across the beekeeper’s house, secluded almost to the point of comedy.

The setup feels allegorical: the hunters are the real world, Gelsomina and company are a fiction, and the reality TV show will somehow bridge that gap. It’s not the only moment where Rohrwacher’s film feels nearly magical – a camel in the backyard, a lonely bed outside where it seems a house once was – the film alternates between sequences that seem as illusory as those represented on the reality TV show, and a realist, grainy style.

That latter sense is helped by the gorgeous 16mm photography from Hélène Louvart. Her palette features rich, but faded colors, alongside a camera that frequently searches, hesitating mid-pan. In fact, the scene immediately after the hunters’ prologue introduces us to Gelsomina and her younger sister Marinella (Agnese Graziani). The frame moves vaguely through the mostly-empty house, stalling, unsure of its destination. Bad camera operation in another film, here it adds to the wide-eyed view of the world that Gelsomina holds – one informed largely through her father and pop songs on the radio: Rohrwacher’s camera is as naïve and diffident in these moments as her protagonist.

395f3d93-dc4a-4755-83e5-ee580d3f5244-2060x1236

Though often strikingly allusive and elusive, The Wonders is also an accomplishment in feel-good realism. The relationships between Gelsomina and Marinella, Wolfgang, and the taciturn, good-looking Martin are carefully drawn, and Rohrwacher turns small scenes into intimate, often funny moments: honey spilling uncontrollably onto the floor; wind pulling the covers off of bee boxes; a failed choreographed dance by the sisters.

When the family (some reluctantly) finally does join the reality show the mood becomes somber and mystical. Shot in a crowded cave and interviewed by the lovely, enigmatic host Milly Catena (Monica Bellucci), Wolfgang gives a monologue worthy of a Fellini film. And indeed, Rohrwacher’s brand of magical-realism isn’t far off from the mood of Nights of Cabiria.




Add Comment


50 CEOs Who Never Went to College (and how they managed to succeed)
10 Different Types of Financial Aid
Top 10 Richest American Idols
V-Moda Crossfade Wireless
The 5 Most Expensive Wireless Headphones: Ultimate Auditory Clarity
7 Best Golf Courses in St. Augustine, Florida
25 Bachelor Party Movie Ideas
People playing the clarinet
10 Different Types of Clarinets
11 Different Types of Drums
A bowl of oatmeal porridge
7 Different Types of Porridge
Shots of tequila
5 Different Types of Tequila (Plus Tequila Cocktails)
Fresh kale in a bowl
10 Different Types of Kale
8 Different Types of Cantaloupes
A Man in a Suit Opening a Car’s Door
9 Different Types of Car Doors
Headlights of a black car
9 Different Types of Headlights
19 Different Types of Construction Vehicles
Fire Truck with Warm Yellow Lights
9 Different Types of Fire Trucks
54 Different Types of Sports Played (Individual and Team Sports)
15 Different Types of Goggles
13 Different Types of Dumbbells
15 Awesome Alternatives to Skateboards (Plus Interesting Facts)
16 Different Types of Technology
man holding smartphone with vintage case
11 Types of Cell Phone Cases and Covers to Protect Your Expensive Smartphone
Black and Red Tablet Covers
8 Types of Tablet Cases for Kids, Protection, and Convenience
Camera, lenses and other photography equipments.
45 of the Best Online Camera Stores for the Perfect Pics