La Chimera’s pretty visuals outshine its vague narrative: Film review

La Chimera’s pretty visuals outshine its vague narrative: Film review

WATCH HERE: La Chimera trailer starring Josh O'Connor

Lee Charlton

By Lee Charlton

Published: 10/05/2024

- 00:30

Updated: 31/05/2024

- 15:47

Josh O’Connor, one of today’s hottest talents to come from Britain, leads in Alice Rohrwacher’s meditative arthouse tale

Alice Rohrwacher’s latest work marks itself as a classic example of a festival film. Its appeal won’t suit the needs of a majority audience who may demand more from plot and character as their reliable source of engagement.

La Chimera relies more on delivering an observant experience, rather than focusing on an engaging narrative. But this artistic approach isn’t new from the Italian director.

Individual cinematic taste will decide whether you find the experience tedious, captivating, or pleasantly passive.

Set in 1980s Tuscany, Arthur (Josh O’Connor) returns from prison to a familiar rural village where he is reunited with old friends and acquaintances.

There, he and a group of grave robbers raid hidden ancient tombs, in which Arthur can detect using a dowsing rod.

The goal of the group is to make money from selling the artifacts and antiques they discover.

La Chimera

La Chimera: Josh O'Connor takes on the role of Arthur


However, it becomes apparent that Arthur has an individual goal, searching for traces of a deceased woman of beauty who we presume is a past love.

La Chimera’s story doesn’t get much deeper than its outset in terms of its revelations.

Rohrwacher presents a setup, and uses the film's themes of art, beauty and longing as the source of hierarchy for further exploration.

According to the director, political commentary on capitalism was a dominant factor, but whether that’s the main takeaway of the experience is questionable.

The themes provide depth, but everything that builds the story feels limited. From the minimal character exploration and lack of narrative detail, it all feels stepped back.

I do believe this approach was intended, turning La Chimera into a work that is contemplated carefully and quietly observed. However it never pulls you in deep enough to command your full attention or warrant full emotional involvement.

O’Connor’s performance doesn’t quite do the job either, despite acclaim from other critics.

There’s no faulting La Chimera’s technical ability. Its cream, glistening, hazy grain visual aesthetic is pleasing to the eye.

Supplemented further by the experimental, bold camera movement, shining a clear light on filmmakers fine at their craft.

Josh O'Connor

Josh O'Connor leads the cast of La Chimera


It would be unfair to suggest the work lacked overall artistic merit based on its distanced approach to story that some may find difficult to indulge with.

While you may leave La Chimera feeling somewhat unfulfilled due to its vagueness, departing the cinema unclear of the picture the artist intended, doesn’t necessarily lead to an outright dire verdict.

Words by Bobby Charlton.

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