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Happy as Lazzaro

(Italy, English Subtitles): Lazzaro works alongside a couple of dozen other people as sharecroppers on a tobacco farm owned by an oppressive Marchesa de La Luna, who everyone calls “the Queen of Cigarettes”. Lazzaro is a young man who appears gullible and naïve while helping others with whatever they need or want. Lazzaro strikes up a friendship with Tancredi, the son of the Marchesa, and they orchestrate Tancredi’s abduction. I won’t say much more about the story since any more description would risk giving away the main plot twist. I loved the film. It is beautifully filmed, well-acted, and the screenplay is highly original and unique. It is a relevant, modern-day fable that shows the deep class divisions in society and how difficult it is to move in or out of the class you are born in. The most surprising thing to me was how wonderful and – well, happy – I felt watching the film. Lazzaro has little dialog, and he spends a lot of time staring out in wonder, but the actor’s portrayal of his character conveys happiness and peace that is rather infectious. If you want to watch a film that makes you feel, well, “Happy as Lazzaro” (and one that you can see for free on Netflix), this one will do it. Big thumbs up from me for one of my favorite films of the year.

About Gary Burkholder

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