TIFF ’23: La Chimera

Fresh out of prison, wandering English archaeologist Arthur reconnects with his wayward grave-robber group who live off looting Etruscan tombs and cemeteries buried with treasure. However, Arthur isn’t really interested in this life anymore. As a result, his search is more connected to discovering what might be beyond our world and where his beloved Beniamina may be now that she has passed on. 

Alice Rowracher’s newest film, La Chimera, takes a while to figure out. Even so, by the second half, Rowracher’s sense of humour and the power of her themes come to life. This combination creates a comedy that contemplates what we hold sacred and reflects upon what we believe matters in this life (and the next). Rohrwacher is able to dive into her more radical filmmaking style while still maintaining a strong sense of connection to the viewer. For example, Chimera expresses Arthur’s wandering journey through long wide shots as he gets swallowed up by the Italian valleys and growth. What’s more, many of the film’s most comedic moments come thanks to some great filmmaking as she uses interesting sped-up footage of her characters stealing from tombs. In these spaces, Rohrwacher carves a very specific world full of quirks.

At the same time, she also creates a very specific feeling for the film as it gets more dramatic in the second half. Suddenly, Chimera becomes more immersive and helps us to connect to its characters in meaningful ways. We start to understand the absurd decisions they make and start to see the very devastating journey that Arthur takes as a man who wants to connect back to the living when he seems to be living a life destined for the afterlife. Rowracher has intrigued me as to what the rest of her filmography holds and what unique story she can tell next.

La Chimera is now playing at TIFF ’23. For more information, click here.

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