Daily Archives: Tuesday, May 14, 2024

  • La Chimera      Alice Rohrwacher  (It; 2023)

    La Chimera      Alice Rohrwacher  (It; 2023)  Josh O’Connor

    viewed Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle 10th May 2024; ticket: £11:25

    empty tombs 

    Rohrwacher’s ‘La Chimera’ comes across as a distressed imitation of the type of scenario that Fellini made his own.  Fellini’s films comprise the revelation of life lived out as immanent spectacle.   Fellini’s scripting and direction produced films that opened out to the audience joyously inviting them to be part of what was happening on screen.  Rohrwacher’s film has the ostensible look of Fellini but plays as a series of token gestures lacking the spirit which runs through and permeates films like Clowns, 8 1/2 or Julietta.   Rohrwacher film take in the expressive faces of the sisters and the gang, the processions and the parties, but these elements all have a distant disconnected feel as the portal into the action, her protagonist Arthur, is a closed being.

    Arthur the lead character in ‘La Chimera’ is designed as an enigmatic.  He comes across as shut off even to himself.  The core thematic is designed about his pursuit of the chimera of his dead lover and the tombs of the Etruscans. There is a divide between his chimerical ‘world’ and the spectacle that revolves about him.  But it’s a divide that rather than heightening the film in oppositional intensity, acts as a deintensifier and finally leads to indifference.    

    It may be that the script  following a precept of Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen demands O’Connor do too many contradictory things at the same time: he is the Chimerist in pursuit of both the recent and the long time dead, the archaeologist, the squatter, one of the gang, the lover of beautiful things, the flirter, the ex-prisoner, the dowser.   Arthur is in fact simply a construct, not even a male lead.  He’s an artificial device designed to fit into the chicanery of Rohrwacher’s plot.  The character has to jump through so many multiple personality hoops that in the end it looks like he gives up and adopts a default face characterised by an adopted immobility.  O’Connor looks over directed with Rohrwacher calling the shots on his performance asking him to pull back on any overtly expressive responses as a means of trying to keep the script under her control.  Either that or O’Connor abandoned by Rohrwacher adopted his default face and body to an inexpressive mode as the only way out of the conflicting aspects of the construct of script.  Either way, as the film describes its circuits of intensity around the character of Arthur, it quickly runs out of energy and comes to a stop – a dead end.

    The problem with many current film makers is that they feel they have to incorporate a wide range of issues and themes into their scripting in an effort to make their work   relevant to contemporary life. They do this either as some form of justification or as a means of exemplifying or highlighting aspects of their belief systems.  The result is often dilution confusion and loss of focus to the point where the intention underlying the film simply collapses. Rohrwacher’s  ‘La Chimera’ seems a case in point as her scenario bounces about between feminism, lice, Arthur’s fits when dousing, aesthetics, exploitation, aging, the antiquities racket, industrialisation etc, death and entombment finally ending up as an incoherence. An incoherence which is mirrored in the music track which like the script seems to want to cover all bases from Baroque to Italian folk and popular music, the which seems to evidence Rohrwacher’s polytonal anxieties as much as anything. 


    Five starred by ‘The Guardian’  Alice Rohrwacher’s ‘La Chimera’ is the sort of drama that functions by featuring one thing after another. Many contemporary directors perhaps taking note of the influence of iPhones and advertising  on attention span, punctuate their scenario’s with abrupt changes of focus to maintain audience connection.   ‘La Chimera’ is a film in which ideas are replaced by a pot pourri of affects and gimmicks cobbled together and presented as a film. 

    adrin neatrour