Travels With JB

Travels With JB

Travel news and reviews

The exploits of tomb raiders have provided plenty of fodder for movie makers. But few are like Italian film maker Alice Rohrwacher’s latest offering, La Chimera.

Josh O’Connor (Arthur) centre and the cast of La Chimera.*

For a start there’s no violence with the movie far more interested in the motive behind the actions of raiders. Then there’s Rohrwacher’s innovative direction which includes the movie being shot in three formats of photographic film – 35 mm, 16mm, and Super 16 mm.

One of the translations of La Chimera as “a hope or dream unlikely to ever come true” (the other being a monster in Greek mythology) provides some inkling to the motive behind the actions of the movie’s lead character, Arthur (Josh O’Connor).

Josh O’Connor (Arthur).*

When we first meet Arthur it’s the early 1980s and he’s heading home on a train dreaming of a beautiful young girl.

We later discover Arthur is an English archaeologist who now lives in Tuscany and who has remarkable powers which allows him to locate buried Etruscan artefacts. He’s just finished a stint in prison for robbing tombs of these artefacts.

On arriving back home Arthur wants to put his criminal past behind him and thus seeks to avoid his fellow grave robbers, known as the tombarolo, led by Pirro (Vincenzo Nemolato).

Isabella Rossellini (Flora).*

There is, however, one person he is keen to see – Flora (Isabella Rossellini). She is the mother of Beniamina (Yile Yara Vianello), the beautiful blonde woman in Arthur’s opening dream and his true love. Flora refuses to accept Beniamina is dead and encourages Arthur not to give up hope on her returning.

Like Arthur, Flora also has her `issues’. She lives in a crumbling, fresco-filled villa and is being pressured by her determined and rather annoying children to move into a nursing home so they can sell her home.

Carol Duarte (Italia) and Josh O’Connor (Arthur).*

Wheelchair-bound Flora is reliant on Italia (Carol Duarte) to whom she gives singing lessons (despite Flora believing she is tone deaf), and who in return functions as her de facto servant.

While initially avoiding his fellow tombaroli, Arthur, whose only possession seems to be a crumpled linen suit, eventually succumbs – but only, he says, until he pays off his debts.  At the same time Arthur is growing closer to Italia.

With the help of Arthur the gang quickly discovers some smallish artefacts hidden in tombs, selling their loot to the mysterious fence Spartaco (Alba Rohrwacher sister of the film’s director Alice Rohrwacher ).

Josh O’Connor (Arthur) and Alba Rohrwacher (Spartaco).*

A major find of a magnificent statue changes everything.

This discovery enables Rohrwacher to explore the ethics behind some of the major discoveries of antiquities that end up in museums around the world.

The movie also examines the folklore surrounding the tombarolo who seemingly work with the support of many of the local landowners.

The Tombarolo.*

But mostly it’s the story of a man so impacted by the grief of the past that he finds it near impossible to move on.

While the exploration of such a theme would seem to suggest La Chimera is a rather sad movie this isn’t the case thanks to Rohrwacher’s whimsical direction.

There’s also plenty of subtle humour as well as some silliness and even the occasional song. And there’s the chance to see three great acting performances from O’Connor, Rossellini and Duarte.

La Chimera official releases in Australian cinemas on April 11. Advanced screenings are being held on the weekend of April 5 to 7 .

*Photo credit: ©PalaceFilms


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