Worker Bees

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The Wonders is a wry portrait of the pastoral, centering on a family in the honey production business. Wolfgang, the father, is a hairy, balding, irascible middle-aged German, who uses his four young Italian daughters as workers. The eldest of the daughters is Gelsomina (Maria Alexandra Lungu), a wide-eyed teen who looks like a statue from antiquity come alive. Writer-director Alice Rohrwacher occludes the backstory, suggesting that the family is squatting and, possibly, part of some itinerant commune. Rohrwacher is also diligent about informing us about the process of honey production. The Wonders is an art film: There are few cuts within scenes, dreamy and lyrical moments, and, thankfully, almost no score. Yet the film basically follows a conventional three-act structure: the girls and their father stumble onto the filming of a commercial, are enticed to enter a reality competition hosted by a great beauty (Monica Bellucci). Simultaneously, Wolfgang decides to foster a young boy with a criminal background to supplement the family’s income. What transpires is tinged with tension and drama, goals and obstacles, climax and resolution.

In Italian & German & French. 

By Alec Julian & Carrie White 

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