Newest Reviews
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
Iron Fury
Ride in the Whirlwind
Deathstalker II
Cloak and Dagger
Love Ban, The
Western Stars
League of Gentlemen, The
Higher Power
IT Chapter Two
Rich Kids
Glory Guys, The
Serial Killer's Guide to Life, A
Lovers and Other Strangers
Shiny Shrimps, The
Good Woman is Hard to Find, A
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Doctor at Sea
Death Cheaters
Wild Rose
Mystify: Michael Hutchence
Devil's Playground, The
Cleanin' Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters
Mega Time Squad
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Souvenir, The
Birds of Passage
Woman at War
Happy as Lazzaro
Mickey's Christmas Carol
Marriage Story
Santa Claus is a Bastard
Newest Articles
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
  Happy as Lazzaro Barely Getting ByBuy this film here.
Year: 2018
Director: Alice Rohrwacher
Stars: Adriano Tardiolo, Agnese Graziani, Alba Rohrwacher, Luca Chikovani, Tommaso Ragno, Sergi López, Natalino Balasso, Carlo Tamati, Pasqualina Scuncia, Nicoletta Braschi, Eduardo Montalto, Carlo Massmino, Maddalena Baiocco, Gala Othero Winter
Genre: Drama, Fantasy
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: A few years ago, Lazzaro (Adriano Tardiolo) was part of a sharecropping community in Italy, taking care of a tobacco plantation with his neighbours, all of whom were paid a pittance assuming they were paid at all. He would be given the jobs that the others did not want to do on account of his sweet nature, so benevolent and willing to help out that he was taken advantage of at every opportunity, but he did not mind too much as long as he felt he was doing the right thing. However, the introduction of Tancredi (Luca Chikovani), the son of the owner (Nicoletta Braschi), changes Lazzaro's existence in a profound manner, and all because he wanted to assist him getting a coffee...

Happy as Lazzaro, or Lazzaro Felice as it was known in its original Italian, was a self-confessed fable from writer and director Alice Rohrwacher, and from the beginning you could see a history of her country's filmmaking was informing every frame. A touch of Pier Paolo Pasolini here, some Federico Fellini there, how about a dash of Roberto Rossellini and of course we would not be without a slice of Lina Wertmuller, and so forth; she obviously knew her cinema and there were echoes of all sorts of neo-realism, satire and a more fantastical aspect which made itself apparent the further the story progressed. With that in mind, was there a problem with this actually being its own, singular entity?

Certainly it received no lack of acclaim, but the nagging feeling this was not as original as it appeared never quite left it for some viewers, not that this necessarily would be a drawback if Rohrwacher had something of her own voice to say with all this experience. To an extent, the social commentary was contemporary to the start of the twenty-first century, dealing as it did with the world of work and how it had not only been debased itself, but had also brought down the working classes and corrupted the upper classes to the point where they were both scrabbling around for any dignity at all, and in many cases had given up and resorted to cheating and victimisation to gain a foothold.

Heady stuff, but the director had a light touch and her cinematographer Hélène Louvart (operating with 16mm film) was able to craft a bucolic atmosphere for the first half and a harsh, unforgiving chill for the second without making the transition too jarring even if you did notice the difference once you realised what was going on. And what was going on? Well, after Lazzaro takes Tancredi to his refuge in the hills for that coffee, the rich heir decides he likes it there and demands the poor chap tell no one where he is, for he has concocted a scheme to fake his own kidnapping to get his hands on a portion of his mother's fortune. If Lazzaro blows it, then Tancredi will see to it that he will take the fall, but there's more to it than that, as the sharecroppers do not know sharecropping has been made illegal.

The point was, they were dirt poor but happy because they at least had a community and were provided for, after a fashion, by their corrupt boss. What this asks is, is that really any worse than the alternative, scraping by hand to mouth not in the fresh air of the countryside but in the choking milieu of the city where everyone has descended to a level of self-centred flouting of the law to suit themselves. Lazzaro, as the epitome of decency and looking out for his fellow man and woman, does not stand a chance in these conditions, which was presumably why he was portrayed as a man literally out of time, as unstuck as Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse-5, as the film took on a fantastical appearance. If despair at the way the world is heading was your idea of a good time - and Rohrwacher laid it on very thick - then you would embrace this admittedly unusual method of making that commentary clear, but despite the decline it depicted, you wondered if the situation was ever as sunny in the past as assumed, caveats or no.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 329 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M


Last Updated: