Growing up in Switzerland, 13 year-old Marta (Vianello) struggles to get used to life back in southern Italy. Her impending confirmation only adds to the growing burden on her young shoulders.
Despite its adherence to the Dardenne brand of pared-down realism, Alice Rohrwacher’s feature debut has most in common with Katell Quillévéré’s Love Like Poison, with its focus on an adolescent girl’s growing appreciation of adult foible, religious duplicity and her own physical and emotional maturation. However, in charting Yle Vianello’s struggle to settle in her native Calabria after several years in Switzerland, Rohrwacher also considers the insularity of southern Italy and the extent to which Catholicism has played its part. She also uses Hélène Louvart’s nimble camera to capture the dispiriting landscape and Vianello’s quizzical perspective, as she seeks to fathom her relationship with that unknowable man hanging on a cross.
Quietly compelling, the cerebral slice of social realism is well worth hunting down.