Opening 13 Sep 2018
Serfs toil long hours in a small village called Inviolate, in a remote backland of Italy, to meet the demands of their “owner,” the Marchesa Alfonsina de Luna (Nicoletta Braschi). She knows exactly what they are producing, because she is nearby in her summer house, which she visits each season with her husband, daughter Nicola, and son Tancredi (Luca Chikovani). Tancredi dislikes his mother so intensely, that he hides in the nearby mountains and sends her a fake letter saying that he has been kidnapped and expects money to be deposited in a certain place to insure his release. He has become friends with a shy villager, Lazzaro (Adriano Tardiolo), which is how he became acquainted with this mountainous area. Lazzaro is the only one who knows the truth. This “crime” brings around the police, who end the kidnapping, but, more important, end the serfdom of the villagers. They, living far from any news, did not know that Italy had changed the laws, and they could become independent farmers, pocketing their own money.
Fast forward ten years. All of the villagers have left Inviolate for the big city, where their daily struggle between honest work and thievery results in lives even poorer than before. Lazzaro, who has fallen from a mountain, “wakes up,” discovers that all have disappeared and follows some thieves to the city, where he finds his friends. The Marchesa has sunk into poverty; Tancredi has started a new life.
It takes a while to realize that, in the second half of the film, all participants look ten years older, except Lazzaro, who has travelled through time. Even while working in the village, he seemed too quiet and nice – too ghostlike. Director Alice Rohrwachersays, “This is the story of an unimposing saint, who never makes miracles, or possesses any special talents, or any magic powers. He is a saint who lives in this world, never thinks badly of anyone, and always believes in people.” Part of the plot is based on a true story of a real Italian Marchesa who “forgot” to inform her workers that sharecropping had been outlawed in 1982. It was filmed in several areas in Italy and won first prize for best script at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. This is a first film for both young actors Adriano Tardiolo and Luca Chikovani. Chikovani is also a well-known pop singer in Italy. Alba Rohrwacher, who plays Antonia, is the sister of director Alice Rohrwacher. As both ZDF and ARTE television stations helped sponsor the film, I am sure you will see it on television sooner or later. (Becky Tan)