La Chimera review — Josh O’Connor’s the real deal

Directed by Alice Rohrwacher | Written by Rohrwacher,  Carmela Covino, and Marco Pettenello |  ▲▲▲△△ | On digital and VOD

A meandering 1980s-set romantic drama, the film follows a deeply troubled tomb raider with a special, almost supernatural gift for locating buried artifacts. Arthur (Josh O’Connor, mostly speaking Italian) lives in squalor while searching for… something. His obsession isn’t entirely clear, but we get a lot of time with him and his colleagues looking for Etruscan treasure while he also visits the mother, Flora (Isabella Rosselini), of his dead girlfriend and gets friendly with her student, Italia (Carol Duarte), who’s concealing two daughters, hidden in Flora’s sprawling, dilapidated mansion.

There’s a welcome grit here, and an evocative sense of period and place, slathered in a Felliniesque chaos. Some might find this narrative with its touch of fable and its ensemble work charming, but the characters are too often irritating or opaque, while quirky stylistic tropes — from breaking the fourth wall to bringing in Benny Hill-style gags — grows increasingly tiresome over two-plus hours.

Still, it has moments of sincerity that resonate in the foundations of its storytelling, and O’Connor, who’s breaking big in Challengers right now, is clearly a star.

About the author


Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.