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The Wonders

Winner of the Cannes Grand Prix, Alice Rohrwacher’s follow-up to Corpo celeste is a vivid story of teenage yearning and confusion that revolves around a beekeeping family in rural central Italy. Two unexpected arrivals prove disruptive, especially for the pensive oldest daughter, Gelsomina (Maria Alexandra Lungu). The father takes in a troubled teenage boy as part of a welfare programme and a television crew shows up to enlist local farmers in a kitschy celebration of Etruscan culinary traditions (a slyly self-mocking Monica Bellucci plays the bewigged host). The film never announces its themes but has plenty on its mind, not least the ways in which old traditions survive in the modern world, as acts of resistance or repackaged as commodities. Combining a documentary attention to daily ritual with an evocative atmosphere of mystery, The Wonders conjures a richly concrete world that is nonetheless subject to the magical thinking of adolescence.