“La chimera”, the mysteries of the past at the center of the last Italian in competition

“La chimera”, the mysteries of the past at the center of the last Italian in competition

Latest films in competition at the Cannes Film Festival: "La chimera" by Alice Rohrwacher and "The Old Oak" by Ken Loach close a competition that promises to be very tight for the victory of the main prizes.
The Italian director is an absolute darling of the Croisette, where she has presented all her previous feature films: from her debut with "Corpoceleste" in 2011, shown in the Directors' Fortnight, to "Le marvels" in 2014, entered in competition and winner of the Grand Prix, up to "Lazzaro happy" in 2018, with which he obtained the award for best screenplay.

"The Chimera"

Who knows if this fourth film of his, "La chimera", will also be included in the palmarès, a film set in the 80s and focused on the clandestine trafficking of historical artifacts, fueled by the "grave robbers". The film tells the story of a British archaeologist, Arthur, who is involved in the black market of precious historical artifacts, stolen from tombs during excavations. The first highly suggestive element around "The Chimera" is certainly the writing of the main character: Arthur can feel the emptiness of the earth, deep beneath the ground where the vestiges of a bygone world are hidden, but that same emptiness is what he feels when he remembers his lost love, Beniamina. More than easy money, it is the search for the ideal love is his chimera, a journey into an individual and collective past that combines traumas and wonderful discoveries.

«The chimera»

A film full of charm but partly unsolved

Probably "The chimera" is the most fascinating, mysterious and profound work that Alice Rohrwacher has ever directed, above all for a narrative flow always full of surprises and for several passages undoubtedly to be interpreted. The director's style, which can recall cinema by Ermanno Olmi or Pier Paolo Pasolini, is now increasingly recognizable and there is a lot of coherence within his entire artistic career. In the same way, however, "La chimera" appears to be a film that is at times unresolved, which ends up excessively empty, although the suggestions are not lacking from beginning to end. The initial sequence is remarkable and poetic, the final one is very powerful: the frame is impeccable, while in the central part something creaks, so as not to be able to make the operation as memorable as it would have been could have been.

An image from the movie «The Old Oak»

The Old Oak

Great emotions also gave her Ken Loach, who brought to the Cannes Film Festival what should be the last film of his career: "The Old Oak". Set in a village in the north of England, the film has at the center of the narration an old pub (the “Old Oak” of the title) which is the last remaining pub in the town. Many young people leave the village due to the absence of work and the community, increasingly resentful, will have to learn to live with the presence of various Syrian refugees. This intense drama by the director speaks of economic difficulties and human solidarity in Cannes he won the Palme d'or twice: in 2006 for "The wind that caresses the grass" and in 2016 with "I, Daniel Blake". Born in 1936, Loach continues to propose an angry, militant cinema, always from the part of the latter, capable of shaking and making us reflect. Many narrative dynamics of the film are predictable and some passages are a bit forced, but the overall design is still moving and so passionate as to hide some limits that can be found here and there during the narration. If it were really the last film of his career, as stated by the director himself, it would really be the worthy closure of a filmography of capital importance.

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