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The quiet star

Oliver Armknecht
Oliver Armknecht

Alba Rohrwacher to receive the CineMerit Award for her achievement in cinema

The quiet star

Adelina doesn’t really know how to take the compliment. She looks so good, says her mother-in-law, whose birthday the whole family has come together to celebrate. Spirits are high; only the peacock owned by Adelina’s daughter, Alma, causes minor disruptions. Beautiful he is, yet he’s out of place, just as Adelina feels out of place when she becomes the center of attention. Embarrassed, she touches her ear, looks a bit lost, and lets her gaze wander, not knowing where to look. At that moment, she has no words.

Alba Rohrwacher doesn’t need words to act out this scene in PEACOCK’S PARADISE (2021). This is no surprise to anyone who has followed her career. In twenty years, the Italian actress has often proven that she can say a lot without having to express anything verbally. That makes her the ideal person to star in this drama, which is very much about how and whether we communicate with each other at all, and about feelings that remain hidden beneath a beautiful façade.

Das Pfauenparadies Online1(C) 2021 Vivo Film Match Factory Productions

Alba Rohrwacher in peacock's paradise

When Alba Rohrwacher receives the CineMerit Award in Munich, it will be a kind of home game for her. She’s been a frequent guest at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN, as many of her films have had their German premiere here. But she’s also a fixture of movie theaters like practically no other Italian actress. This year alone, she’s appearing in three films. In her home country, she’s already acknowledged as one of the greats and has been honored with numerous awards. The David di Donatello, her country’s most illustrious film award, the Nastro d’argento, and the Globo d’oro, also known as the Italian Golden Globe, all adorn her trophy cabinet.

But as great as Rohrwacher’s artistic success has been, it could all have turned out very differently. She first tried her hand at studying medicine, but it wasn’t until she took to the stage and slipped into a wide variety of roles that she found a way to experiment while continuing to be herself. Alba Rohrwacher is a versatile actress, playing characters that are either tender or tough, while she remains in search of herself. Her characters are themselves in search of something; they’re often going through a personal crisis. They’re people who wander through the world, looking, doubting, despairing.

In the drama THE SOLITUDE OF PRIME NUMBERS (2010), for example, we encounter her as a young woman, Alice, who was injured in a skiing accident. She limps along, physically and emotionally, not really getting anywhere. The real tragedy, however, lies in her profound, unconsummated love for Mattia. Time and again, the two are close, yet never quite come together, like prime numbers that can be divided only by one and themselves. In HUNGRY HEARTS (2014), on the other hand, two people do come together at first, but they are not happier in the end. Rather, they discover the horror of togetherness and the madness of parenthood.

Even though dramas are a gratifying outlet for her expressiveness, Alba Rohrwacher also appears in comedies. One of her best-known films is PERFECT STRANGERS (2016). This film about a couple of friends who spend an evening reading aloud all the text messages on their cell phones holds the record for the most remakes; the story was a commercial hit in Germany, where it was branded as DAS PERFEKTE GEHEIMNIS (2019). But the original comes from Italy. Alba Rohrwacher demonstrated her comedic talent in this farce that combines the everyday and the absurd.

The films she’s made with her younger sister, director Alice Rohrwacher, are in the vein of fairy tales. The two have collaborated twice so far, first on THE WONDERS (2014), then on HAPPY AS LAZZARO (2018). Both films are about people who live in a cosmos very much of their own, but are forced to deal with the outside world and learn its rules. With great appreciation of the poetic and magical, but also of the whimsical, the Rohrwachers take you on two wondrous journeys whose magic has a long-lasting effect.

Not only has Alba Rohrwacher collaborated with her sister Alice several times. She also made the films SWORN VIRGIN (2015) and DAUGHTER OF MINE (2018) with Laura Bispuri, the director of PEACOCK’S PARADISE. It’s no coincidence that Rohrwacher’s filmography includes several such enduring collaborations. In fact, it is precisely such interactions that have left their mark on how she practices her profession. To her, the movies are truly an experience to be shared, be it on set or watching the screen, with the wide-eyed wonder of children or the experienced gaze of adults.

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