Parents' Guide to

Happy as Lazzaro

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Odd, confusing magical drama has some language, violence.

Movie PG-13 2018 127 minutes
Happy as Lazzaro Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 7+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 2+

the PIG

age 12+

Happy As Lazzaro - The Smell Of A Good Man

Tuscan-born writer/director Alice Rohrwacher has created an Award-winning allegorical observation on how the average person stumbles along, following the ruling classes orders of the day. Most live without stopping to analyze the derogatory impact, this almost hidden manipulation, has on our everyday understanding of the true meaning of life. Curiously, the writer based part of this strange story on a factual newspaper story! The manipulation of the poorer classes by greedy conglomerates - fleecing workers for a pittance in return for endless hard labor. How empty modern lifestyles can offer little more benefits than those of the slave workers, too often pushing the good in humanity to obscurity. It’s not a film for everyone and many viewers may miss important messages within this thoughtful work – perhaps one reason could be because they blindly accept the hidden economic controls, enforced on the world’s working classes. ‘Lazzaro’ is both enigmatic and silently devastating to any viewer prepared to consider how the world’s bankers – pervade every aspect of modern life - often reducing it to rubble for struggling nations. It's little coincidence this film comes to its haunting conclusion inside a bank! It’s a longish tale (2 hrs) so needing a patient, discerning audience. It could possibly have conveyed its thoughtful message in less time but those attuned to reading between the lines of our every day news media... will be quite willing to take the journey. Fascinatingly the filmmaker is able to convince the viewer to accept quite jarring, bizarre twists, as if we trust somehow they are taking us towards a meaningful outcome. Sought after French cinematographer Hélène Louvart provides the darkly probing visuals. There is an interesting piano soliloquy that plays out here and there but the film has no score composer. Performances are uniformly good, making this a treat for those who like to think about their entertainment – the sensitive viewer might find the final scene one not easily forgotten (aided by a Wolf and some Italian folklore)

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2):
Kids say (1):

This Italian movie is an interesting mess. It's at least three movies packed into one and too long by a good 30 minutes, all of which will make it a challenging trudge for teens old enough to grasp its political, religious, and social messages. At times, it channels the innocent protagonist of Being There. At others, it suggests the neo-realism of 1950s Italian cinema. Or is it a fable? The director doesn't seem to know, as fantasy and reality clash with no integrating mechanism to make those categories mesh coherently. If Happy as Lazzaro is an allegory, what's the parallel? The Christ story? Given that Martin Scorsese, director of The Last Temptation of Christ, is a producer, that's a plausible guess.

But even the movie's own internal logic is skewed. When Lazzaro takes a fall that would kill any man, a child's voice begins a narration about an old man who leaves his village and isn't attacked by a hungry wolf because he is "good." But Lazzaro isn't old. And if he isn't Jesus carrying the good news, is he Lazarus rising from the dead? Beneath the voice-over we see Lazzaro rise as the hungry wolf leaves him alone because of his goodness. That's confusing enough, but is it the next day? Thirty years later? It doesn't make enough sense for us to care.

Movie Details

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