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Critics reviews
Happy as Lazzaro
Alice Rohrwacher Italy, 2018
At once palimpsestic and precise, Happy as Lazzaro layers together Biblical allegory, Italian history, and its own neorealistic forebears without compromising the lucidity of its politics.
January 02, 2019
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As played by the young, sweet-faced Italian actor Adriano Tardiolo, the slightly cherubic Lazzaro is a figure of pure grace, and a seemingly ideal protagonist for a beautifully crafted and surpassingly lyrical movie with the tone and texture of a folktale.
December 13, 2018
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These landscapes recall the soothing pastoralism of Ermanno Olmi’s post-neorealist films, scenes grounded by an impulse towards mundane detail and naturalistic camerawork. But what sets Rohrwacher on a terrain of her own is the distinct way she centers anachronism as an existential condition.
December 06, 2018
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Happy as Lazzaro employs career performers, but it’s made with the same abundance of sympathy and curiosity [as Italian neorealism films]—as well as with an unexpected, gobsmacking cleverness.
November 30, 2018
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It has the quality of hallucination, of fable, of folk tale—while being absolutely modern and rooted, however obliquely, in the contemporary real. It’s so traditional that it feels decades old, at the very least, yet it’s one of the freshest films of the year.
November 29, 2018
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This movie feels bracingly new and also like something that has been here forever. It has the urgency of a news bulletin and the authority of a classic.
November 29, 2018
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Borrowing themes and tropes from such grand directorial forerunners as Visconti and Pasolini, Rohrwacher imaginatively maps the ills of modernity onto long-standing injustices. Only some on-the-nose symbols and facile political sentiments diminish her majestically playful, fiercely empathetic vision.
November 29, 2018
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Indifferent to the misanthropic trend prevalent in today’s cinema, Rohrwacher’s beautiful, painful movie alerts us to the maladies of our time while also providing us with the emotional tools to defeat them.
November 02, 2018
The rules of the film, of time, are never quite clear but Rohrwacher uses other instincts to carefully tie the film together, giving it a special coherence, one based on cinema, on the progression of light and texture and landscape, instead of traditional narrative logic.
November 01, 2018
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As it continues, the film begins to conform to Lazzaro’s rhythms, revealing itself as a gratifyingly tricky, mercurial work of magical realism with one foot firmly in its country’s political cinematic past.
October 06, 2018
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Rohrwacher mines the untenability of Alfonsina’s position for acidic satire, using subtle visual humor to poke fun at the marquise’s blinkered perspective.
August 27, 2018
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By Competition standards at least, Alice Rohrwacher’s third feature Happy as Lazzaro demonstrated a surprising degree of ambition, pushing the bucolic atmosphere of her 2014 Grand Prix-winning The Wonders further towards fable while folding in such new, theoretically incompatible ideas as time travel and social realism with supple assurance.
July 11, 2018
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Rohrwacher follows her beguiling The Wonders (2014) with the no less lyrical and even more fabulist Happy as Lazzaro. . . . Rohrwacher owes a lot to Pasolini’s political fables, but by the end of Happy as Lazzaro, the strain of finding beauty in horror takes its toll.
July 03, 2018
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Preposterous as it may read at a time when any form of poetic transcendence has been made superfluous, the film elevates its whimsical constructions to a level where disbelief is not suspended, but embraced. What’s striking and perhaps even genius about this operation is that it never feels affected: it breaks through the cynicism of adulthood with the same ease that a fairy tale captures a child’s imagination.
July 02, 2018
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With its magic realist narrative, Lazzaro Felice nonetheless furnishes an apt metaphor for the opening up of Italian society to the winds of globalisation, and even augurs the populist political storm that has engulfed the country so soon after the film’s completion.
June 27, 2018
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In a fable with both Christian and Marxist overtones, Rohrwacher keeps the spell alive even as she sharpens her political stance.
May 28, 2018
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Beautifully shot on 16mm by Hélène Louvart, this is a sprawling and strange film that narrates a fabulist tale in broad strokes and with an understated audacity, covering its many themes and ideas with a visual simplicity that belongs to paintings before the Renaissance, before notions of perspective, ego and capital.
May 21, 2018
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With a sensitive touch that makes every face, tree and ray of light come alive, Ms. Rohrwacher creates a textured, vibrant portrait of a lost world that is at once emotionally sustaining and grossly exploitative.
May 17, 2018
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Rohrwacher avoids [contrivance] thanks to her delicate handling of tone. Her effort builds on the work of Italian forebears such as Pier Paolo Pasolini and the Taviani brothers, filmmakers who mixed a timeless, elemental lyricism with a ruthless moral vision.
May 17, 2018
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It demonstrates the writer-director’s ability to combine, convincingly and charmingly, an aesthetic which is firmly in the tradition of neorealism with elements of a peculiarly Italian fabulism. Indeed, while there is a genuine freshness and idiosyncrasy to her work, it is fair to say that Rohrwacher is following in the distinguished footsteps of the Taviani brothers and, even more, of Ermanno Olmi.
May 15, 2018
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It’s a movie that finds truly unorthodox and inconspicuous means of becoming other-than-natural—becoming mystical, otherworldly; where other filmmakers rupture their naturalism by flying literal UFOs through the frame (hello, Jia), Rohrwacher delivers us into the cosmos via the most tenuous fluctuations of spirit and direction, and it’s genuinely exciting to be in the presence of a movie so ambitious and modest.
May 15, 2018
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This is where Happy as Lazzaro achieves its blurry but moving critique of human values, and values of community, degraded by exploitation. Lazzaro wanders through these landscapes as the eras seemingly pass (or maybe don’t at all), an innocent with open eyes and without judgment, and the tragic thing about this softly comic film is that few recognize his eminence.
May 15, 2018
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