Italian director Alice Rohrwacher’s second film Le Meraviglie a Cannes favourite

The Italian film Le Meraviglie (The Wonders) is generating Best Actress award buzz at the Cannes International Film Festival this year.

Clockwise from left, Agnese Graziani, Maria Alexandra Lungu, Alba Rohrwacher and Maria-Stella Morrow in a scene from Le Meraviglie (The Wonders), the only Italian film in competition this year at Cannes. Courtesy Cannes International Film Festival

Le Meraviglie (The Wonders)

Director: Alice Rohrwacher

Starring: Sam Louwyck, Maria Alexandra Lungu, Monica Belluci, Alba Rohrwacher

In her sophomore film, which has become a Cannes favourite this year due to its gritty look, the Italian director Alice Rohrwacher tells the story of a family trying to break into the honey manufacturing industry over one meaningful summer.

Wolfgang, the father and a modern-day caveman played by Sam Louwyck, tries to provide for his wife, four daughters and sister-in-law. His oldest daughter and the film’s teenage protagonist, Gelsomina (Maria Alexandra Lungu), serves as his assistant and is the closest to him of all his daughters, but the pair clash as they try to keep the business afloat.

The film, set in the countryside, has a subtle way of shooting scenes that is evident from the start, with slow passing headlights at night introducing the characters in and out of the darkness.

The director portrays a strong connection to nature and prompts strong performances from her actors, particularly the young talents.

The Italian actress and fashion model Monica Bellucci and Alba Rohrwacher (the director’s sister, as the wife) feature prominently. Lungu gives a stand-out performance, becoming one of the festival’s stars – and a possible challenger for this year’s Best Actress award.

Khalid Al Mahmood is an independent filmmaker who has been working in the UAE film scene since 2001