This review may contain spoilers.
Happy as Lazzaro (Lazzaro felice) is a magical-realist drama divided in two parts. The first part is about a small village called Inviolata in Italy, in what seems to be the 1950s. This is where we meet Lazzaro an innocent, saint-like boy who cannot see the evil in the world. But soon we learn that he and the people in the village are oppressed and exploited by the aristocrat Marchesa Alfonsina de Luna a.k.a. “The Queen of Cigarettes”.
Lazzaro meets the son of Marchesa Alfonsina named Tancredi. This is when we learn that it is somewhere around the 1970s, because of huge wireless phones and 70s rock music. Tancredi asks Lazzaro if he can help him set up an abduction. When the aristocratic parents receive the ransom note, they don’t seem to care much for their son. This subplot, even tho a highly enjoyable one, comes to a halt, when Lazzaro falls from a cliff. The first part of the movie ends with Lazzaro left for dead and the people in the village freed by the police.
The second part is where the magical aspect of the film comes in. Lazzaro rises from the dead as an biblical figure, becoming a true saint. Lazzaro finds his way to the city and roams the streets. This is where he finds the people from the village. Even though they are no longer oppressed, they still live in poverty an under social-oppression. Social classes are not even in a “free” modern society considered equal. Even the church doesn’t accept them or the saint Lazzaro. Which concludes in one of the funniest scenes, where the poor villagers and Lazzaro have to leave the church because they are not welcome, but on doing so the organ music also follows Lazzaro instead of the staying in the church. The organ stops working and they try to close the church doors before the organ music escapes.
The movie asks you to compare the old oppressed village and modern society with each other, and asks if there is a place for the good and the innocent in this world.
I enjoyed the movie and i’m looking forward to see more from this director.