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Corpo Celeste is a narrative feature that is both a coming-of-age tale and an exploration of faith (or the lack thereof) in a local community church where becoming confirmed is considered the most important social activity for youth to participate in and the adults in the church seem to consider their prestige and status than their place in the community.
The story centers upon the young 13 year old Marta (Yle Vianello). Marta is largely ignored from her family, and she is left to herself most of the time. They decide to include her in the confirmation activities so that she can socialize with others her age and so that she can then participate in the local church activities more frequently. Her family has just moved back to Italy, and they aren't very familiar with anyone around them and decide this is as good of a social activity as any they could make her be a part of.
Marta is curious about the world and about herself. She likes to wander, to explore, and the world around her seems like something she should try and understand more. She asks many questions and seeks greater understanding. The church seems to be a perfect fit for her with Marta's curiosity and sometimes philosophical ponderings.
Unfortunately, Marta soon realizes that most of the adults around her (including the priest who works at the Church) seem more concerned with themselves than with the words or lessons to share with others.
This film is artistically filmed and it has an interesting concept. It wants to be a coming of age story unlike anything else, and it wants to pose questions about organized religion and how a sense of spirituality can form even at a young age. However, filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher is someone who seems to find long, methodical shots of buildings, activities, and events as the most interesting kind of thing to include in her film and most of Corpo Celeste is filled with uninteresting moments filmed with a pseudo-documentary approach and with little story to unravel the story at a more interesting pace or with a better grasp of storytelling.
I had some problems with the film. Perhaps the biggest issue was that I was not invested in the characters. I might as well add that I thought the approach was too simplistic in approach. The characters seem to be caricatures more than actual representations of what people are like and while some of the ideas expressed in the film are quite interesting they are not really that well-handled.
There should have been more care towards telling a story but instead director/writer Rohrwacher seemed more interested with simply filming artistically and letting the story of Corpo Celeste unfold at its glacial and uninteresting pace. The film is a bit of a bore and while it seems to consider itself challenging and profound it feels more frustrating to behold than anything.
The picture quality on this release isn't up to par with many of the Film Movement releases. While Corpo Celeste is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the film presentation is sometimes garbled by odd compression. The cinematography and style of the film is well maintained but the film's transfer is a bit soft and underwhelming.
The 5.1 surround sound audio preserves the original Italian language audio track. There is also a 2.0 stereo audio option included on this release. This is a largely quiet film and there wasn't as much going on with this soft and uninteresting sound design. English subtitles are provided.
The monthly short film on this Film Movement release is the Academy Award nominated Raju (from director Max Zahle). The short film is actually much better than the feature length effort this month.
This is a nearly thirty minute long effort and it's one of the best short films I have seen on any Film Movement release. It focuses on a German couple that is faced with a difficult situation when their recently adopted son goes missing and they learn that the son they had adopted in Kolkata had been kidnapped from his parents to be given a "better life". This was an amazing short film and one that is undeniably powerful and important.
Corpo Celeste was an underwhelming mess of a film that attempted to be an interesting and introspective work of art. Luckily, this Film Movement release still has some merit because Raju, an amazing Academy Award nominated short film, is also included on this release. I recommend renting this release just to see the short film.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.