Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
The SWITCHCast team reunites for a special episode to celebrate this year's Oscars! Click here to listen now.x
review, Happy As Lazzaro, Happy, As, Lazzaro, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Adriano Tardiolo, Agnese Graziani, Luca Chikovani, Alba Rohrwacher, Sergi López, Tommaso Ragno, Natalino Balasso, Nicoletta Braschi, Carlo Massimino, Daria Pascal Attolini, Alice Rohrwacher, Drama film rating

HAPPY AS LAZZARO

★★★

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE

THEATRICAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Ashley Teresa
6th June 2019

Italy’s newest film sensation, ‘Happy as Lazzaro’ (or ‘Lazzaro Felice’) has had tongues wagging ever since it won Best Screenplay at Cannes 2018. The story is simple: on a rural sharecropping estate called Inviolata, teenager Lazzaro (Adriano Tardiolo) leads a placid existence, overworked and underpaid along with three generations of Italians trading in tobacco and other goods. To leave is to face punishment; the hive mentality of the village and its workers borders on cult-like. At first, the praise for the film seems justified as it takes the form of the Italian cinematic answer to slice of life masterpiece ‘Roma’ and tackling similar themes of power imbalances in the working class. But make no mistake, there is something much more unusual to ‘Happy as Lazzaro’ than meets the eye.

The term Inviolata derives from “inviolable”: to never be broken or untouched. This acts as a description for the village both in how its habitants treat it and how 'Happy as Lazzaro' frames it. Shot on film with frayed edges and natural lighting, the vast plains fill the camera, allowing for a glorious backdrop that justifies why Lazzaro and his fellow workers might not want to leave, even if they could. What the film also does quite well is frame its landscapes in a way that feel as empty as Lazzaro’s face, while also feeling tempting and yearning to be explored. Much of the action takes place on the edge of frames, allowing the focus to be on the isolated setting itself. One moment early on in the film is particularly magical, involving tall, lush greenery that surrounds and obscures the protagonist’s face in a way that demands focus on his handsome yet boy-like features.

'HAPPY AS LAZZARO' TRAILER

Anyone familiar with the promotional material will have no doubt seen Lazzaro’s cherubic, rather expressionless face. He is primed for exploitation and cruelty, it seems, a pure symbol of innocence of unexplained origin amongst the dirty clothes and rough hands of his fellow workers. Surely there must be something else bubbling behind those blue eyes. Spending much of the first act of the film as a secondary character constantly being given work to complete, Lazzaro’s whirlwind and risky friendship with Tancredi (Luca Chikovani) changes all that. Tardiolo exercises an incredible level of restraint in his performance that allows him to delve deeper into his character's desires and inner workings without betraying it on his face, even as he is beaten by a group of civilians. While no doubt the mark of a talented actor, Lazzaro’s blank slate is both the film's best friend and worst enemy.

As ‘Happy as Lazzaro’ bends away from the exploitative drama of the first act and leans into the fantastical, the film deliberately splits itself into two halves, as a cliff dive (I mean this literally) launches audiences into a fable-style, surrealist story that acts as part allegory, part satire. Admittedly, it is wonderful to look at, but unfortunately not as compelling as it wants to be. Through such a major shift, it would be helpful to have a more concrete figure of theme and meaning to tie the two halves of the film together, but instead we have Lazzaro. Unchanged both physically and spiritually despite the massive switch in gears the film takes on, what the character is actually meant to represent to the audience is left far too ambiguous for the two halves of the film to really work. Perhaps, like the film, Lazzaro himself is taking on double meanings and representations. Perhaps he is more symbol than character, a move that may alienate audiences in its abstractness.

‘Happy as Lazzaro’ comes and goes like an airy fable but doesn’t make as much of an impact as it wants to.

‘Happy as Lazzaro’ comes and goes like an airy fable but doesn’t make as much of an impact as it wants to. Through a lack of convincing and earned pivot, its first half in realism drags down the escapism it yearns for in its second half. Its ambition is to be commended and is definitely a film that deserves to be seen, but as a whole is just verging on greatness.

FAST FACTS
AKA: Lazzaro Felice
RELEASE DATE: 06/06/2019
RUN TIME: 2h 5m
CAST: Adriano Tardiolo
Agnese Graziani
Luca Chikovani
Alba Rohrwacher
Sergi López
Tommaso Ragno
Natalino Balasso
Nicoletta Braschi
Carlo Massimino
Daria Pascal Attolini
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Alice Rohrwacher
PRODUCERS: Carlo Cresto-Dina
Gregory Gajos
Pierre-François Piet
Tiziana Soudani
Cécile Tollu-Polonowski
Michael Weber
www.HappyAsLazzaro.com.au
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
And the Academy Award goes to... - Pick this year's winners to take home your own prize!
TRENDINGWIN AND THE ACADEMY AWARD GOES TO...Pick this year's winners to take home your own prize!
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
The Trouble with Being Born - Controversial, unsettling and intelligent science-fiction
TRENDINGTHE TROUBLE WITH BEING BORNControversial, unsettling and intelligent science-fiction
The Violin Player - Sex and strings
TRENDINGTHE VIOLIN PLAYERSex and strings
Cosmic Sin - A film that delivers on the promise of its title
TRENDINGCOSMIC SINA film that delivers on the promise of its title
xXx: Return Of Xander Cage - The good, the bad and the ugly
TRENDINGxXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGEThe good, the bad and the ugly
Waterloo - An epic recreation of the legendary battle
TRENDINGWATERLOOAn epic recreation of the legendary battle
Wet Woman in the Wind - A sexy struggle for conquest
TRENDINGWET WOMAN IN THE WINDA sexy struggle for conquest
Love and Monsters - A fun freakshow for the whole family
TRENDINGLOVE AND MONSTERSA fun freakshow for the whole family
The World at War - The landmark documentary series restored in high definition
TRENDINGTHE WORLD AT WARThe landmark documentary series restored in high definition
The Thing About Harry - A gay tale for the romantics
TRENDINGTHE THING ABOUT HARRYA gay tale for the romantics
End of the Century - The exquisite beauty of love that could have been
TRENDINGEND OF THE CENTURYThe exquisite beauty of love that could have been
Endings, Beginnings - Star-studded sex drama lacks substance
TRENDINGENDINGS, BEGINNINGSStar-studded sex drama lacks substance
Palm Beach - Aussie dream cast, unwelcoming dinner party
TRENDINGPALM BEACHAussie dream cast, unwelcoming dinner party
Jungle - A true story told poorly
TRENDINGJUNGLEA true story told poorly
Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge - An animated gorefest for aggressive preschoolers
TRENDINGMORTAL KOMBAT LEGENDS: SCORPION'S REVENGEAn animated gorefest for aggressive preschoolers
Nymphomaniac - Lars, sex and cinema
TRENDINGNYMPHOMANIACLars, sex and cinema
Peter Rabbit 2 - The rebel rabbit is back
TRENDINGPETER RABBIT 2The rebel rabbit is back
Malila: The Farewell Flower - Contemplating love and loss
TRENDINGMALILA: THE FAREWELL FLOWERContemplating love and loss
© 2011 - 2021 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!