Gianni Zanasi comedy Lucia’s Grace (Troppa grazia) is an odd film, picking up many threads but ultimately falling short of tying them all together. Nonetheless, Zanasi’s work managed to win the award for best European film at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.
Visually, the film is stunning: cinematographer Vladan Radovic shows the Italian landscape drenched in warm yellow light, the night in contrasting deep blue, drawing parallels to his previous work in Laura Bispuri’s Daughter of Mine (Figlia mia), also starring the talented Alba Rohrwacher in the lead role, which unfortunately does not help Lucia’s Grace.
Single mother and land surveyor Lucia (Rohrwacher) is on the job when the Virgin Mary (Hadas Yaron) appears to her in the middle of a field. At first, Lucia assumes she is faced with a refugee, but the stranger soon reveals her identity, and the reason she is there in the first place: instead of the pricey and prestigious project for which she is hired, Lucia must build a church. As a modern atheist, Lucia at first assumes she is hallucinating, but the Holy Virgin soon proves that she is very real in a humorous and surprising fight scene.
In the end, Mary’s goal to build a church is dropped entirely. Instead of bringing back religion into a township which seems to have lost its beliefs, and is succumbing to corruption, she wants Lucia to believe in herself.
The plot is certainly unique, as is its portrayal of religious beliefs in the modern world, but the script often seems haphazard as it introduces subplots and characters that have little to add to the story.
Lucia’s Grace ultimately fails to successfully meld together the many themes it embraces, offering an unfocused but superficially enjoyable viewing experience, carried by impressive images and Rohrwacher’s committed performance.
CAST: Alba Rohrwacher, Elio Germano, Hadas Yaron, Guiseppe Battiston, Carlotta Natoli, Thomas Trabacchi
DIRECTOR: Gianni Zanasi
WRITERS: Gianni Zanasi, Giacomo Ciarrapico, Federica Pontremoli, Michele Pellegrini
SYNOPSIS: Lucia, a single mother, does surveying work when she meets the Virgin Mary who tells her: Lucia must build a church.