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A preternaturally skilled archaeologist goes on an Orphean quest for his lost love in Alice Rohrwacher’s latest, and most romantically bewitching, film.

Just out of jail and still searching for his late beloved Beniamina, crumpled English archaeologist Arthur reconnects with his wayward crew of tombaroli accomplices – a happy-go-lucky collective of itinerant grave-robbers who survive by looting Etruscan tombs and fencing the ancient treasures they dig up. Arthur isn’t interested in the artefacts, though; he’s seeking a legendary door to the underworld, and to Beniamina.

Following on from Happy as Lazzaro (MIFF 2018) and The Wonders, La Chimera completes Rohrwacher’s unofficial trilogy, set in and around the stunning Tuscan landscapes of her birth, that trades in blurring dualities: past and present, rural and urban, life and death, fantasy and reality. The director goes all in here, playing with film gauges (35mm, super-16 and 16mm) and aspect ratios as well as style and texture to communicate differing states of reality and mind. Her vision is once again enacted by the exquisite cinematography of Hélène Louvart, while her wonderful cast includes Isabella Rossellini, sister Alba Rohrwacher and a transcendent Josh O’Connor (now famed for playing Charles in The Crown, but last seen at MIFF in 2017 film God’s Own Country). Enchanting, funny, lush and poetic, La Chimera is a modern myth in the making.

“A joyous, masterful work of folk magic that plays like a discovery dug up from the ground where it has been for centuries, just waiting … to burst into full bloom before the gaze of living eyes.” – Sight and Sound