So far this month, my selections have been really strong. Outside of one (unintentional) negative rating, every film has either been okay or great. This trend with continue today with Lazzaro felice (or Happy as Lazzaro in English).
March has been so good, in fact, that this film, which I am about to praise as very enjoyable, would be considered one of the lesser titles. Funny how it works that even when something is good, sometimes competition makes it technically among the worst of the batch. No one could ever take advantage of that information to push agendas or anything.
…Sorry, where was I? Oh, yes. Happy as Lazzaro.
Short and Lazy Synopsis
Lazzaro is a young boy whose purity is shown straight on his face. An innocent naivety that’s animal-like, willing to aid those in need for no recompense. This behavior of his will come to be tested upon the arrival of another boy his near-total opposite. A single event shifts the course of the plot in ways unfathomable by reality.
The issue with typing up a review everyday, especially ones for films so packed with content predicated by context of specific situations, is a monumental task that I don’t always have the motivation to do daily. But I will do my best!
A Slow Formula
Humorously enough, Happy as Lazzaro has a similar nature of progression as a couple other films I viewed this month. They begin slowly, naturally allowing the characters and the setting speak for themselves. It can be a chore to try and piece together what the film attempts to showcase without a quick motivator. But a little more than others, its trail feels just a tad longer.
Being a film that establishes itself as realistically as possible can be unrelenting in multiple capacities. I think, in general, people want media like this to be realistic-ish—this isn’t a comedy or lighthearted superhero film. The serious gravity of a drama or… uh, I guess this is a drama, can linger with a certain variety of comfort. There isn’t much here that seems totally over the top.
At the same time, its slowness can dissuade from paying careful attention. Especially during the first half, Happy as Lazzaro takes its time in nurturing, sculpting the group of characters by having them as realistically unenthusiastic as possible. Not to say that’s it’s dull or boring, but it can be borderline dull or boring.
To a Big Payoff
Also like other films from this month, the payoff to all the waiting pays off splendidly. Lady Vengeance yesterday had more powerful and satisfying scenes in its latter half, resulting in a better emotional ending. Similar case here: Knowing what I knew from the first half, it became easier to empathize with the characters and understand their plight.
The irony was not lost on the aftermath of a specific event, either. Two settings, one prison. As much as one perspective paints it, reality can be as blunt as the fury is harrowing in yesterday’s film. Without all that came before, it wouldn’t be as spectacularly tragic. All it takes is a little magic.
In only one moment, I was reminded of when I read Tropic of Orange for one of my college courses. Happy as Lazzaro is technically a work of magical realism—mostly based in nonfiction, but a few things seem entirely unfeasible. One such moment occurs about halfway through that further ties into the spiritual themes present throughout. It’s because of this, not in spite of it, that it works all the better in the end.
I tried, yet it’s getting late and my capacity to write is nearly kaput. A similar trend of “Start slow, finishes splendidly” that was only slightly less bearable than others. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of making the “point” poignant and the tragedy of everything more damning. Characters fit rather rigidly into their roles, which can also distract from taking this as seriously as could be.
At the same time, if things are presented in a captivatingly artistic way, my pretentious brain will certainly register.
Final Score: 7.5/10
The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.
For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!
Thank you for your time. Have a great timezone.