La Chimera (dir. Alice Rohrwacher)
By: Adam Freed
Buried in the ancient soil of rural Tuscany lies a museum's worth of priceless antiquities. Confounding this matter however is the reality that those precious artifacts were placed there for millennia in contribution to the burial plots of the ancient deceased, and therefore may not legally be disturbed or recovered under threat of prosecution. Life changing wealth sits directly below the ground, yet any attempt at its cultivation is a life threatening proposition. Behold the central crux of Alice Rohrwacher’s Italian romantic adventure La Chimera.
The film opens as Arthur, an Englishman renowned for his skill for hunting precious artifacts, returns to the small rural village that led to his very recent incarceration. With little to show for his mystical and pronounced talent, Arthur aptly performed by Josh O’Connor (The Crown), reunites with his eclectic consortium of traveling thieves in search of what is rumored to be the greatest discovery of their age. Arthur’s nefarious purposes are somewhat interrupted however when he collides with Italia, a preciously flawed and enduringly human young mother. Devoid of all convention, the precarious edge on which Arthur’s desire for Italia is balanced against his lust for riches makes for a delightful and unpredictable courtship.
Although it opens as a grainy and somewhat drab depiction of Tuscan rural dwellers, La Chimera picks up steam quickly evolves in a full scale ensemble adventure. Sans the robust budget, La Chimera captures the playful fun of The Goonies (1985) while allowing the pronounced chemistry between stars O’Connor and Carol Duarte (Italia) to take command. La Chimera is resounding proof that finding an Italian treasure doesn’t require probing into the rich soils of Tuscany.
La Chimera was screened as an official selection of the 59th Annual Chicago International Film Festival.
Target Score: 7/10 - Overcoming a bulky opening act, the film snaps to life in its balanced pursuit of forbidden artifacts and forlorn love.