La Chimera

Verdict: Josh O'Connor gives a wonderfully subtle and melancholic performance in this enigmatic drama

Josh O’Connor plays a British archaeologist caught up with Italian grave robbers in 1980s Tuscany.

Josh O’Connor fans are in for a double treat at the cinemas this week. Hot on the heels of Challengers, he is back with La Chimera.

Alice Rohrwacher’s drama, set in 1980s Tuscany, follows Arthur (O’Connor), a British archaeologist who has fallen in with a group of Italian grave robbers and recently paid the price with a stint in prison.

Everyone has their own chimera, something they try to find but never manage to, and Arthur’s chimera is Beniamina, the girlfriend he lost. The story tracks Arthur as he returns home and continues his search for his long-lost love.

The narrative of La Chimera is very meandering and loose, with lots of extra baggage that it doesn’t really need. Although it doesn’t take a straight line from A to B, it is never a boring watch because it is so intriguing and mysterious. Rohrwacher doesn’t tell you much about Arthur, which can be frustrating at times but it keeps the story interesting overall.

La Chimera makes sense and comes together beautifully at the very end. The profound conclusion takes the story to another level and makes you appreciate what came before more. It gives you a lot to think about as the credits roll – and possibly much longer after.

O’Connor’s Arthur is sad, despondent and lost. He is so low that he has let his personal hygiene go – he is sweaty and his clothes are in need of a good wash. O’Connor is fantastic at delivering this subtle, melancholic performance and impressively speaks Italian for the majority of the movie.

La Chimera won’t be for everyone due to its length, slow pace and seemingly aimless narrative. However, O’Connor’s performance makes up for this and the ending knocks it out of the park.

Between this and Challengers, 2024 really is the year of O’Connor. For those who have been fans of the actor since 2017’s God’s Own Country, his international breakthrough is well deserved.

In cinemas from Friday 10th May.

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