Happy as Lazzaro

This was lovely and brutal. A dreamy Italian fable from Cannes darling Alice Rohrwacher about how wealth is inherently abusive, with wolves. Adriano Tardiolo’s face is practically a wonder of the world. At one point I sat straight up with a gasp, and a moment later realized I literally had my hand pressed over my heart. In short, if I have to pick one 2+ hour non-English language class warfare film from 2018 (a distinct category), I’m taking this one!

Lazzaro felice (‘Happy as Lazzaro’) is another movie I’m stuck talking around in a lot of ways, because there is a twist. What I’ll say is that it reminded me of Sorry To Bother You in that for the first half I thought the loglines had mis-categorized the genre as ‘magical realism’. They aren’t wrong! The movie is just picking its moment. (Though ultimately Happy as Lazzaro is also quite like Sorry To Bother You in its feelings on modern economies. They would make a tonally abrupt double feature, but thematically a fairly consistent one.)

Anyway I’m coming back to the wolf because I love an animal symbol in a movie so much. Part harbinger, part familiar, part allegory, all BEASTIE. I’ll always be down for that trope. The wolf and the Fool, in that bright yellow Italian sunlight. Dry sunbaked land and those big green tobacco leaves. “Lazzaro’s staring into the void again, go shake him.” The organ music following him through the night air… This was a very beautiful movie, as much as it kind of harrows you.

★★★★

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