Alice Rohwacher tells her story with passion and humour, taking great risks with admirable lightness, perhaps facing some avoidable crush, but without the fear of being ramshackle at times. And this benefits the film. The review of La chimera by Federico Gironi.
Who will be that tall, thin English young man who looks a little like the young man Ayrton Sennaand who walks around in a white suit that, weren’t so dirty and wrinkled, would make him look like theDel Monte manor an emulator of John Travolta from the Saturday night Fever?
Who is the friend who, when he gets off the train, somewhere in the countryside between Lazio, Tuscany and Umbria, is waiting for him on board a 127 light blue, and that speaks of a certain Spartacus who would have paid the bail? And what bail are you talking about? Above all: who is that beautiful red-haired girl that we see together with the Englishman in the first, dreamlike images of this film?
These mysteries do not last long, in La chimera, even if a certain sense of mystery remains, throughout the course of a film that walks constantly, with elegant and miraculous balance, on a rope stretched between two opposites. Among many, opposites. Between dream and reality, comedy and drama, the desire to tell but also to let many questions, perhaps secondary, but not only, remain so.
The wrinkled, lanky English boy is called Arthur, and he is the foreigner of a wacky gang of grave robbers who, as a sort of minstrel sings at one point, steals not to get rich, like some do, but to escape poverty. Theirs seems almost an 80s and country version of the band of desperate Monicelli’s Soliti ignotimore or less destined to end up with pasta and chickpeas like that one: nothing but dreams of wealth.
The fact is that Arthur, a former archaeologist with dowsing skills for finding Etruscan tombs, is a grave robber partly out of passion (for antiquities) and partly out of desperation (for love). To fill, as well as with alcohol, the gaps in his life. Emptiness of beauty, emptiness of feeling, that Beniamina’s mother (the beautiful red-haired girl), a rich lady of a dilapidated country palace, is not enough, nor perhaps her young apprentice Brazilian singer, who also sets her eyes on Arthur yes.
Arthur’s is a double life, day and night, dream and wakefulness, reality and dream, soil and underground. Life and death. AND a young man who moves on the thin, ephemeral, sometimes invisible border. His fate is linked to a few bottles, to Y-shaped branches, to the relics of a past that she cannot overcome. Her destiny is linked to a red thread, the thread of love for Beniamina, which she follows like Ariadne, to act as Orpheus to her Eurydice.
Alice Rohwacher tells his story with passion and humor, taking great risks with admirable lightness, perhaps facing some avoidable crush, but without the fear of being sometimes ramshackle: indeed, almost happy, at least oblivious to being so. The obsessions of his cinema also return here, also in La chimera, but they are milder, less serious. More aerial, despite the subsoil.
The director also seems to take herself a little less seriously, eager to play more with comedy without ever forgetting pain and feelings. AND this widespread lightness, embodied in Arthur’s smile and bitter and alcoholic disenchantment, is good for her, for the film, for the characters. Even when he skids, even when he’s wrong.
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