[CORPO CELESTE screens Thursday September 13th at 8:30 pm and Sunday September 16th at 4:00 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]
Thirteen year old Marta (Yle Vianello) begins her transition into womanhood while simultaneously questioning her faith in Catholicism in the interminably dull CORPO CELESTE. While attending classes for her confirmation in the church, Marta dares to ask what the Latin portion of the words she has to recite means. Her teacher tells her it's beyond her understanding, and to just blindly say what she's told. This is just one of the ways the film portrays the institution of the Catholic Church as dispassionate and controlling, particularly where women are concerned.
This is not exactly unexplored territory, nor is the way in which writer/director Alice Rohrwacher explores it particularly interesting. The plot is pedestrian, and neither Marta nor any of the other characters in the film ever really come alive and engage us. The whole thing is just a dreary, heavy-handed affair that hits all the expected marks (of course Marta gets her first period during a crucial and symbolic moment in the film) on its way to an abrupt and enigmatic ending. 1 out of 4 stars.