Film Review: LA CHIMERA (2023): Josh O’Connor Turns in a Unique Performance in an Overlong and Offbeat Drama SuperNayr

Josh O Connor La Chimera

La Chimera Review

La Chimera (2023) Film Review, a movie directed by Alice Rohrwacher, written by Carmela Covino, Marco Pettenello and Alice Rohrwacher and starring Josh O’Connor, Carol Duarte, Isabella Rossellini, Alba Rohrwacher, Lou Roy-Lecollinet, Ramona Fiorini, Yile Yara Vianello, Chiara Pazzaglia and Vincent Nemolato.

Filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher’s hugely ambitious Italian film, La Chimera, has an interesting basic premise at its center but the movie goes off track a little less than halfway through due to the fact that the main character is not particularly likable. Besides that, there’s the ambiguous nature of the movie’s ending which could make viewers feel as though the movie is not worth the 2 hours and 13 minute investment. The movie’s strong point is, nevertheless, lead performer Josh O’Connor’s committed performance that the actor has crafted almost to perfection. In this movie, O’Connor plays an archaeologist named Arthur who has been released from prison at the story’s outset. Set around the 1980’s, the movie captures the time period vividly but, for some reason, the characters feel like they’re being kept at a distance from the audience and the movie is not very distinct in terms of presenting the details of the events that are occurring throughout the picture.

The film opens on a train as Arthur is engaging in conversation with female passengers. Arthur gets upset as a sock salesman states that Arthur smells and the vendor eventually throws Arthur a pair of new socks as a courtesy. Arthur associates with a mother-like figure named Flora (the fantastic Isabella Rossellini). If there’s one thing that stands out above everything else in the picture, it’s Rossellini’s fierce and determined performance as the head of a family that consists of several women.

Arthur still carries a torch for the love of his life, Beniamina (Yile Yara Vianello) but she’s not around these days nor does anyone seem to know much about her whereabouts. Carol Duarte, in another standout turn, serves as Italia who is a housekeeper that becomes a supporting character of interest in the movie’s story line as the film progresses.

Most of the film revolves around the fact that Arthur has some artifacts which are valuable and were obtained in interesting ways. Arthur is essentially a grave robber who has a partner in crime named Pirro (well played by Vincent Nemolato). A group of quirky guys (and a token female) get together with Arthur and the movie spends some time meandering with these characters and it’s easy to lose interest in the picture until about the halfway mark where the directorial style sort of makes the movie a bit more interesting to watch, especially when considering the big artifact dealer named Spartaco turns out to not be at all like the character is hyped up to be early on. Alba Rohrwacher plays Spartaco wonderfully in a surprising turn in a movie that is full of surprises, some of which aren’t always pleasurable to watch. Alba Rohrwacher’s turn is so good because it’s so unexpected.

One scene revolves around a headless statue which is very valuable and the fact that the head is being kept separate by our crew of misfits serves as a way to sort of increase the value of the item. But, the choice made by a key character feels unjustified and the movie steers off track again until it reaches its touching but open-ended conclusion.

La Chimera has been acclaimed by some other film critics. There are things about the movie that make its warm reception easy to understand. However, because of the fact that Arthur is played as a down-and-out loner looking to find his place in the world, the picture never makes him easy to like. Plus, he’s spent time in prison and some movie-goers may want to see him clean up his act and make a go of life through an honest living. Josh O’Connor is on screen for a lot of the movie and how much you enjoy the picture may depend on how well you can understand his predicament. He feels like a lost soul and it was hard for me to truly feel invested in his character and his situation.

Isabella Rossellini makes the movie have a stronger heartbeat whenever the actress appears on screen. She’s one of the great cinematic actresses of our time and to see her play such a sophisticated role is certainly welcome. Nobody can do an elegant performance quite as well as Rossellini.

In the end, La Chimera is a tale where truths and fiction collide. There’s no denying that O’Connor is a versatile actor who sinks his teeth into a role that isn’t easy to watch. We’re never quite sure how to feel about him but the other characters do make us seem like we should respect him despite his flaws. When he ends up underground towards the picture’s conclusion, it is symbolic of the character’s nature and the problematic way he has been living his life.

Alice Rohrwacher has made a movie with tremendous depth that could have focused more on making its main character someone the audience would want to invest time in. This film drags in spots but could be a curiosity piece to those interested in unique artifacts or characters who are not typical heroes but are still given a chance to have their unusual stories told.

Rating: 6/10

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