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DVD: Corpo Celeste | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Corpo Celeste

DVD: Corpo Celeste

Sensitive, low-key coming-of-age drama set in Italy

Marta (Yle Vianello): a watchful presence

The onset of puberty is difficult, and especially so for girls in art house films. Marta is 12 and has been away from Italy for 10 years. In the days after returning with her mother and sister, she contends with being prepared for her first communion and her changing body. Quietly, as if not there, Marta observes the hypocrisy of adults. Dog-tired from working in a bakery, her mother is forced into the background.

Corpo Celeste DVDAs Marta, Yle Vianello is terrific, a watchful presence who tries hard to do the right thing but is frustrated, who keeps a distance but is forced to interact. She bakes a cake for her sister’s 18th birthday, but only her mother will eat it. Although a dry, burnt thing, nobody else would make Marta happy by trying the cake. During a quiet, intimate moment with her just-awakened mother, her sister bursts in and accuses of Marta of wasting her mother’s energies. The classes at church – Marta isn’t seen at school – are painful to watch: gormless boys and vacant girls who would rather spend time getting their hair gel just so. The lady in charge wants to impress the priest and. in turn, the bishop. Don Mario the priest - a suitably hang dog Salvatore Cantalupo - grudgingly watches the kids sing the song being prepared for the conformation ceremony, but can’t wait to get out of the room. Later, he and Marta are forced into spending time together, when she sees how he is covertly seeking support for an escape from his parish.

Director Alice Rohrwacher formerly worked in documentaries and Corpo Celeste is her first fiction outing. Her background shows in the detachment brought to the characterisation of Marta and the depiction of the rubbish-strewn landscape, and a down-at-heel Reggio Calabria. Colours are washed out. The texture is grainy. The DVD extras include the trailer and an interesting interview with Rohrwacher which should not be watched before the film.

Spirits won’t be raised by Corpo Celeste – it is a downer. But it is affecting. Although she's a lost soul, you know poor Marta will find her way.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Watch the trailer for Corpo Celeste

The classes at church are painful to watch


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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