Happy as Lazzaro – Confused as John

Rating (3.5 out of 5)

Summary: “Happy as Lazzaro”, available on Netflix, is one of those movies exploring naive goodness set against individual cruelty and moderns society. Lazzaro is such kind soul, you want to watch him obtain a comfortable place to live in the end. The director ever so gently glues you to the screen until the end.

If you are into the artsy fartsy, you will love “Happy as Lazzaro” film, I don’t know what you are waiting for if you haven’t watched this gem of a movie yet.

If you’re my wife, you probably will be annoyed.

If you are like me, you get annoyed by the lack of direct clarity. However, you want to find the answers afterward because you know there is something you didn’t quite pick up. “Happy as Lazzaro” is a movie where you may contemplate the movie many days afterward trying to understand biblical and mythical symbolism interlaced throughout.

Warning:  “Happy as Lazzaro”  is in Italian so reading subtitles will be required.

Plot: Lazzaro (Adriano Tardiolo) and his coworkers have been tricked by the landowner, Marchesa Alfonsina De Luna (Nicoletta Braschi), to work as indentured servants on a tobacco plantation. After the plantation is discovered by the police, the police deem the plantation illegal. Lazzaro’s co-workers are integrated back into society. Lazzaro falls off a cliff. He reawakens years later not having aged and he reunites with a few of his coworkers in the big city.

Detail: The movie has 2 halves, with the first half occurring on a tobacco farm. For a while, you have a hard time understanding the time period because the sharecroppers have barely anything in the way of comforts. The sharing of lightbulbs was definitely odd.

The clear tone manifests itself as everyone commands Lazzaro to complete menial tasks. Then, Marchesa talks to her son about how everyone takes advantage of another. She takes advantage of the sharecroppers, and they take advantage of Lazzaro. The idea of indenture exists in all parts of the film.

The 2nd half of the film, Lazzaro, as if raised from the dead, explores the world, maintaining his humble and wholesome goodness. Lazzaro stumbles upon a significantly older Antonia marking a long passage of time. Antonia (Alba Rohrwacher sister of the writer and director, Alice Rohrwacher) and family now live life in the city scraping by conning people on the streets.

There are biblical themes running through “Happy as Lazzaro”. As a viewer, you need to pay attention or go back through and watch “Happy as Lazzaro” again. Viewing films multiple time is a definite benefit Netflix. I have in particular enjoyed my research trying to understand the movie better. There are numerous images and stories to ponder.