The Wonders, the beautiful new film from Alice Rohrwacher, derives its power and majesty from a beautiful simplicity. In a world where cinema audiences increasingly demand to be emotionally jolted, it never goes further than a raised voice. The Wonders signifies change, not only as a coming of age film but also the decline of traditional rural crafts in a growingly consumerist world. As Gelsomina (Maria Alexandra Lungu) begins to anxiously consider the prospect of life as a teenager her father Wolfgang (Sam Louwyck) must face up to the inevitability of ‘progress’.
Set in rural central Italy, the family live in a ramshackle farm house in the middle of nowhere. Wolfgang lives there with his wife, her friend and their four daughters. He’s an apiarist and their livelihood is inextricably tied to the natural environment around them. The arrival of a young German delinquent and a film crew signal the end of existence as they know it. Wolfgang and Gelsomina have radically different feelings about this.
Inspired by her own childhood, it’s clear that Alice Rohrwacher has a great love for the countryside and a life of simplicity, fresh air and an idyllic rural existence. She plays up the irony of the TV show (including a welcome appearance from Monica Bellucci) celebrating an ancient farming tribe whilst the current inhabitants are seeing their livelihood being taken away from them. The Wonders is as sweet as the honey which pervades the family’s existence without needing to sting to make its point.
The Wonders is out in cinemas on Friday.