Arts & Entertainment

Happy As Lazzaro

Lovers of foreign art house cinema should be completely absorbed and even entranced by this bizarre award-winning dramatic offering from Italy, which was written and directed by Alice Rohrwacher.

This fable revolves around a young and innocent farmhand called Lazzaro (Adriano Tardiolo), who works on a tobacco field and concerns the exploitation of the underprivileged by the rich.

Working alongside a group of sharecroppers who don’t realise this practice has been outlawed, they are inadvertently prisoners under the guard of the marquise disrespectfully known as ‘the cigarette queen’, until the farm is shut down owing to enslavement and tax evasion.

What follows in what can only be best be described as an Italian post-war neorealism film, will mesmerise and possibly perplex audiences as the magic-realism themes evolve in a script overladen with enchanting metaphoric symbolism.

This ‘cinematic allegory’ which may be incoherent for mainstream moviegoers at times, is humorous and contains breathtaking cinematography of sweeping Italian landscapes. The film also offers an insight into the life of uneducated Italian farming communities which were swindled until the late 1970s. (MMo)

★★★ ½