The Guardian

The 50 best films of 2019 in the UK: No 3 – Happy As Lazzaro

The 50 best films of 2019 in the UK: No

Though it doesn’t yield its meanings easily, Alice Rohrwacher’s miraculous and enigmatic fable revels in its protagonist’s state of graceThe 50 best films of 2019 in the UKMore best culture of 2019At the heart of Alice Rohrwacher’s brilliant, enigmatic fable is a single mysterious event. As the illegal sharecropper community where he has lived all his life is being broken up by the police, Lazzaro – endlessly obliging and sweet-natured, a holy fool if ever there was one – falls from a towering cliff, apparently to his death. A wolf strolls into the picture and sniffs at the prone body; Lazzaro, like his near namesake Lazarus, revives, as the voiceover tells us the wolf has smelled something new: “It was the smell … of a good man.” Even more strange: it’s now 30 years on. Lazzaro is, to all appearances, identical, while everyone he knows is now decades older.This transformation is central to Rohrwacher’s film, which is preoccupied with primitive religion, sainthood and pre-Christian superstition. The opening half is extraordinary enough: Lazzaro is part of a group of poverty-stricken workers living on a tobacco-farming estate called Inviolata (a name with unavoidably Marian overtones). They live hand to mouth, in squalid conditions – patronised by the estate manager and fearful of the local aristocrat in her mansion on the hill. Squint a little and this could be the 1930s. But of course, as we eventually realise, this is the modern day, and these hapless paisans have been brainwashed into living a feudal life outlawed decades ago. Continue reading…

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Author : Andrew Pulver

Publish date : 2019-12-18 06:00:11

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