You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cannes Film Review: ‘Lucia’s Grace’

A surveyor floating through life is told by the Virgin Mary to stop construction of an architectural showpiece in the Italian landscape in this forgettable comedy.

Gianni Zanasi
Alba Rohrwacher, Elio Germano, Hadas Yaron, Giuseppe Battiston, Carlotta Natoli, Thomas Trabacchi, Daniele De Angelis, Rosa Vannucci, Teco Celio. (Italian dialogue)

1 hour 49 minutes

In the Italian provinces, the Virgin Mary appears to a directionless woman who tries to reject her commands in Gianni Zanasi’s unremarkable “Lucia’s Grace.” Perhaps it’s cynical to suggest, but the film’s Europa Cinema Label prize in Directors’ Fortnight says more about the movie’s expected chances at the box office, where its sunny and unchallenging cuteness will translate to robust sales, rather than any intrinsic cinematic merits. Lazily constructed and stocked with familiar caricatures, “Lucia’s Grace” can generously be called a pleasant comic bauble whose extremely mild ecological message will make multiplex audiences feel good without inspiring them to action.

It’s not easy for single mom Lucia (Alba Rohrwacher) to find regular employment as a surveyor, maybe because she’s a little too nervy and a little too honest. Brash local businessman Paolo (Giuseppe Battiston) hires her and assistant Fabio (Daniele De Angelis) to chart a pristine hilly landscape for an architecturally bold showpiece called The Wave, designed by arrogant architect Serra (Thomas Trabacchi). But the two surveyors realize the old maps were off and it will take a while to make accurate new ones.

Paolo’s not willing to delay things, so Lucia’s in a bind until, in the middle of the field, she sees the Virgin Mary (Hadas Yaron) who instructs her to build a church on the property. Naturally Lucia thinks she’s going mad, especially as the woman keeps popping up and no one else can see her, but the Madonna is nothing if not persistent, literally strong-arming Lucia into submission after she keeps resisting. The scenes are meant to be funny, which is likely the only way to play them, but Yaron, so good in “Fill the Void,” is a blank (presumably Zanasi directed her that way), and the verbal and physical tussles cause more eye-rolls than yucks.

Lucia tries to keep her visions quiet, but of course word leaks out due to her father, Giulio (Teco Celio), a recovering heroin addict, prompting religious looneys to descend on the property hoping to see the Virgin. Somewhere along the line the confused script decides that Mary isn’t really pushing to have a new church built, but rather to protect the land — Jesus’ mom is an environmentalist above all — yet the bigwigs aren’t willing to stop construction.

Also on hand is Lucia’s teenage daughter Rosa (Rosa Vannucci, uncannily resembling saints painted by Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio), ensuring her mother retains moral responsibility; and Lucia’s ex Arturo (Elio Germano), presumably added to show that Lucia’s nervous energy is peanuts compared with his own. Or maybe it’s because women are fine for having visions and things, but when action is required, you need men around. Naturally, the Mother of God is hors catégorie.

Perhaps too many hands had a shot at the script, which lacks cohesion and plays too hard at being as blandly populist as possible. Shooting was largely done north of Rome in Lazio’s rich rolling terrain, and Vladan Radovic’s visuals are bright and generically attractive. Music, however, is clumsily inserted.

Cannes Film Review: 'Lucia's Grace'

Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Directors’ Fortnight), May 17, 2018. Running time: 109 MIN. Original title: Troppa Grazia.

Production: (Italy-Greece-Spain) A Bim Distribuzione release of a Pupkin Prod. with Rai Cinema, Oplon Film, Strada Film, Smallfish Spain production. (International sales: The Match Factory, Cologne.) Produced by Rita Rognoni.

Crew: Director: Gianni Zanasi. Screenplay: Zanasi, Giacomo Ciarrapico, Federica Pontremoli, Michele Pellegrini. Camera (color, widescreen): Vladan Radovic. Editors: Rita Rognoni, Zanasi. Music: Niccolò Contessa.

With: Alba Rohrwacher, Elio Germano, Hadas Yaron, Giuseppe Battiston, Carlotta Natoli, Thomas Trabacchi, Daniele De Angelis, Rosa Vannucci, Teco Celio. (Italian dialogue)

More Film

  • Mid 90s

    Jonah Hill's 'mid90s,' Pauline Kael Documentary to Screen in Berlin's Panorama Section

    Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, “mid90s,” about a 13-year-old skateboarder’s coming of age, and a documentary on influential film critic Pauline Kael are among the works that will screen in the Panorama section of the upcoming Berlin Film Festival. Films starring Tilda Swinton and Jamie Bell and titles from countries including Israel, Brazil and Japan were [...]

  • 'Your Name' Director Makoto Shinkai Readies

    ‘Your Name' Director Makoto Shinkai Readies 'Weathering'

    Three years after the animation “Your Name” began its long triumphant reign over the Japanese and international box office, its director Makoto Shinkai has announced his next animated feature. Titled “Weathering With You,” the film will arrive in theaters in Japan on July 19 of next year, with Toho distributing. Set in a world where [...]

  • Berlin: The Match Factory Boards New

    Berlin: The Match Factory Boards Competition Titles From Fatih Akin, Emin Alper (EXCLUSIVE)

    German indie powerhouse The Match Factory will handle world sales on two Berlin Film Festival competition titles: German director Fatih Akin’s serial-killer chiller “The Golden Glove” and Turkish director Emin Alper’s family drama “A Tale of Three Sisters.”  Akin, a Hamburg native whose “Head-On” won the Golden Bear in 2004, is returning to the Berlinale [...]

  • First-Look Image Revealed for ‘Monday,’ Starring

    First-Look Image Revealed for ‘Monday,’ Starring ‘Captain America’s’ Sebastian Stan

    The first-look image from Greek director Argyris Papadimitropoulos’ “Monday,” starring Sebastian Stan – best known for “I, Tonya” and the “Captain America” movies – and “Colette’s” Denise Gough, has been released. Protagonist Pictures will launch international sales on the pic in Berlin. “Monday” follows the story of Mickey (Stan) and Chloe (Gough), two Americans in [...]

  • The Wedding

    Film Review: 'The Wedding'

    Two considerations need to exist side by side when discussing “The Wedding,” the debut feature of Egyptian-American multihyphenate Sam Abbas. One involves the film itself, a dull slice of Lower Manhattan mumblecore about a heterosexual New York couple fitfully planning their wedding until she discovers his gay dalliance. The other, getting the lion’s share of [...]

  • The Best Gifts For Film Buffs

    Holiday Gift Guide: The Best Gifts For Film Buffs

    Whether you know a film buff who needs to upgrade their collection, or you just want to upgrade your movie nights at home, here are eight gifts that will cast your favorite flicks in a whole new light. 1. Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema: The Criterion Collection More Reviews Film Review: 'The Wedding' Film Review: 'Malila: The [...]

  • Ansel Elgort The Great High School

    Film News Roundup: Ansel Elgort to Star in 'The Great High School Imposter'

    In today’s film news roundup, Ansel Elgort is going to high school, “Rockaway” gets a release, and “Suspiria” producer Bradley Fischer is honored. CASTING More Reviews Film Review: 'The Wedding' Film Review: 'Malila: The Farewell Flower' Ansel Elgort has come aboard to star in the drama “The Great High School Imposter” for Participant Media and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content