April 25, 2024 culture

An adventurous meditation on love soaked with Italian magic –La Chimera review

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Anatolii Mishustin in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Rating: filled star filled star filled star filled star empty star

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"La Chimera" (2023) / Image courtesy of AMKA Films Productions

Picture by: AMKA Films Productions

The hypnotic sound of the train hitting the tracks and a dream of a beautiful girl, that’s how we meet our protagonist Arthur (Josh O’Connor), a straight-out-of-prison Englishman heading into the depths of 1980s Tuscany.

Arthur has a gift for “finding what is lost,” and with the help of a mere dowsing rod is able to locate ancient tombs filled with Etruscan artifacts.

Along with his infamous troupe known as the tombaroli, Arthur embarks on a tomb-raiding spree. But he may not be chasing money or fame, but instead the girl from his dreams, his deceased love Beniamina (Yle Vianello).

 

Every frame of Italian director Alice Rorhwacher’s La Chimera (a chimera is an illusion or invention of the mind) is permeated with the mythical magic and dizziness of the scorching Italian sun. It manages to be fantastical, amusing, and romantic all at once.

Cinematographer Hélène Louvart efforts pay off in creating a landscape in which the viewer is lost in time yet fully immersed in the day-to-day life of the people of the town of Riparbella, creating an unique anachronistic atmosphere.

It’s a tender symbiosis between the aesthetic feel of the film and the magical realism of the story that shines through the ensemble of characters.

Arthur is an enigma or, at least, a contradiction. In his linen suit, he may be the head of his group of tomb raiders, but throughout the film we see that he is the one who might despise what he does the most.

It’s clear that Arthur is searching for something esoteric in those tombs, something that could guide him to the afterlife and back to his Beniamina. In this search he reconnects with Beniamina’s mother Flora (played by the legendary Isabella Rossellini) and her student-turned-maid Italia (Carol Duarte).

Their interactions add rich context to each other’s arcs, while stellar performances from the actors makes you sympathize instantly with the characters they’re portraying.

If one thing could be said about the La Chimera story, it is that it is poetically beautiful. It portrays love through the unusual lens of grave looting and consciousness of your own actions where wealth may not be the definition of happiness and status, while also taking the viewer on an opportunistic adventure.

La Chimera left me yearning for more, and I believe that in between all the milk-white sculptures in the robbed tombs and shacks made out of rusty metal plates hidden on the outskirts of Riparbella, Alice Rorhwacher manages to “estimate the inestimable” in the film’s sublime yet comforting ending

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Anatolii Mishustin

Film critic

Kyiv, Ukraine | Amsterdam, Netherlands

Hailing from Ukraine, Anatolii was born in 2006 and now resides in Amsterdam while getting his diploma. Moving to the Netherlands was a decision first and foremost motivated by the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Anatolii keeps his hand on the pulse of modern media and underground culture, that’s what grows his interests and ambitions each day. He joined Harbingers’ Magazine in 2023 to challenge himself in this area to explore cultural journalism, and quickly established himself as the lead film critic for the magazine.

His work also secured him an invitation to the first edition of the Harbinger Fellow programme with the Oxford School for the Future of Journalism.

In his free time, he enjoys basketball, watching films, and playing video games.

Anatolii speaks Ukrainian, Russian, English, and is learning Dutch.

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Justin Sau

Culture editor

Hong Kong, SAR

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