Wednesday, 10 April 2019
Happy as Lazzaro - film review
Lazzaro (Adriano Tardiolo) is an innocent young man growing up part of a group of indebted sharecroppers in some seemingly timeless era. They live in extreme poverty, crowded together in tiny houses and wearing old clothes. They are obviously unsatisfied with their lot but enjoy each other's company and make the most of things. As the story unfolds seemingly anachronistic details turn up - baseball caps and mobile phones and we gradually realise that this story is taking place some time after sharecropping was made illegal and that this community is being lied to by the local tobacco magnate, the Marchesa Alfonsina de Luna who is exploiting them.
Lazzaro is put upon by the other sharecroppers, as his sweet nature and untiring physical strength mean that he is able to keep working and will do others bidding without complaint. He somehow makes friends with Tancredi, the Marchesa's son who uses Lazzaro's innocence to plot a way out of the area.
Eventually the isolated community is exposed to the modern world with unexpected effects that leave the sharecroppers in entirely different but equally deprived circumstances and Lazzaro as much of an outsider as ever. (Saying anything more would be a real spoiler).
It's a fable about inequity, progress and power structures while also being a beautifully watchable, moving story about one innocent young man's journey through life.
Happy as Lazzaro is showing at Edinburgh Filmhouse until Thursday 11 April.