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'LA CHIMERA' REVIEW

BY ALEX GILSTON MARCH 6, 2024
La Chimera

Loss is a defining, and universal human experience. The world is filled to the brim with division but it is a feeling we can all come together to agree on. In La Chimera Alice Rohrwacher wrestles with the complex ways it can affect us, and how we constantly seek fulfilment and meaning in anything we can find to fill an unfillable void. La Chimera has its head above the clouds, and the view is beautiful.


SYNOPSIS

Arthur (Josh O’Connor) has just been released from prison and his search for his love Beniamina (Yle Vianello) sees him reconnecting with his old friends. A band of tombaroli - grave robbers - who make their money by exhuming Etruscan tombs for their valuables. Arthur is the so-called leader of this gang as he has a distinctive power to locate these tombs. Arthur isn’t concerned with the treasures like his friends, he just wants to reunite with Beniamina.



REVIEW

La Chimera revolves around a group of grave robbers led by Josh O’Connor’s character Arthur. It’s their way of earning a living, but to do so they must come up close with the deceased that they take from. This might seem like an overly obvious place to explore death, loss, and love but Alice Rohrwacher utilises Arthur’s occupation to her advantage. After all, having Arthur constantly adjacent to death only makes the longing for his lost love stronger. Arthur’s actions then look to transcend the physical rewards he and his friends receive for their efforts.


La Chimera

This loss hangs so heavily on Arthur that he doesn’t truly belong to the world he inhabits. In fact, Rohrwacher treats the world like his limbo, where losing Beniamina also marked the end of his life but unlike her he hasn’t moved on yet. His insistence to carry on his work drives him towards his end goal of moving on. Arthur also personifies the restlessness of a lost soul. Whilst he carries out his work the camera often inverts suggesting a switch from reality, in which he has interactions with other potentially lost souls. Furthermore he has no concern with keeping clean, and he’s also most often wearing the same white suit. Through this La Chimera treats coming to terms with loss as a metaphysical process, but also truthfully as a complex one. 


Through Beniamina’s mother Flora (Isabella Rossellini) Arthur meets Italia (Carol Duarte). Italia is Flora’s maid but she harbours a secret, which Arthur finds out. As the two grow closer Arthur finds a great deal of solace in her, and maybe a way through his grief. She also forces him to confront the morality of his job. When she finds out what he and his friends do, she is distraught, stating the goods they steal aren’t “meant for human eyes”. Arthur and Italia’s relationship is a focal point of La Chimera. Italia helps Arthur see the light, but she also paves her own way in the world in a strong fulfilling way.


La Chimera

Josh O’Connor finds the intricacies of grief in his performance and plays all of its levels. From quaint melancholy to unbridled anger. But La Chimera hangs on the strength of its ensemble. Arthur’s own band of merry men create a warming presence, and we are invited into their lives just as Arthur is when he reconnects with them. 


In the closing act of La Chimera Arthur finds a glimmer of hope that could potentially keep him connected with the real world. But he can’t shake the thread - quite literally - that exists throughout leading him back to Beniamina. Within La Chimera Alice Rohrwacher displays the gaping hole that loss leaves in our lives. She shows the brightness life can offer after the fact to help us through it. But in the end - as long as we follow the thread - we will reunite with the ones we love.


STAR RATING

Rating La Chimera

LA CHIMERA PREMIERED AT GLASGOW FILM FESTIVAL 2024

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