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The Wonders 

Wednesday, Nov 25 2015
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There's an undeniable nobility to living off the land, but it can also be kind of horrible if you were born into it to unhappy people. In Alice Rohrwacher's The Wonders, 12-year-old Gelosmina (Maria Alexandra Lungu) is the eldest daughter of a family of beekeepers struggling to get by in the Etruscan countryside. Family patriarch Wolfgang (Sam Louwyck) is the worst kind of sexist: the kind whose brood is all daughters, and who gets teased by his friends for not having seed that produces boys. Beyond not wishing to be an impoverished beekeeper for the rest of her life, Gelosmina wants the family to participate in a somewhat condescending reality show called Countryside Miracles, much to Wolfgang's objections. That she shares the name of the protagonist of La Strada is probably not a coincidence, since Lungu's character's dynamic with her father is similar to that of Gelsomina and Zampano in the Fellini film, and the occasionally surreal The Wonders bears some resemblance to Fellini in his more pastoral mode. (Oh hai, camel!) But instead of being a road film,The Wondersis a slice of a particular kind of sedentary life, and a consideration of the universal desire to find out what one's purpose is in the world. Especially if it doesn't involve bees.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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