CHALLENGERS – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Early in Challengers, Zendaya as a young tennis prodigy leans back on a motel bed, watching a situation unfold. Her smirk is both amused and aroused, turned on by her power more than her company. Director Luca Guadagnino’s hot and heavy sports drama pumps up the sensuality, with sweaty closeups of eyes, glistening torsos, and plenty of grunting—and that’s just on the tennis court. What the film mostly explores is a menage-a-trois—not the one hyped in the trailers but the complicated relationship of three competitive people who can’t stay out of each other’s business. Challengers offers a messy contest of wills and connections with a lot to unpack.

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LA CHIMERA – Review by Diane Carson

Italian director Alice Rohrwacher avoids cinematic clichés, forging a unique blend of complex characters in unusual circumstances and settings. She’s true to form in her latest film, La Chimera, Rohrwacher’s critical assessment of a band of tombaroli, grave robbers in an eccentric 1980s Tuscan community. The foreigner Arthur and his Italian colleagues propel the narrative with unanticipated twists and turns. Pushing us out of a relaxed comfort zone, Rohrwacher includes characters’ direct-address to the camera, singers and dancers presenting alternative perspectives, and magical realism interwoven with Italy’s signature cinematic neo-realism.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 29, 2024: LA CHIMERA

Love and contentment are as elusive as an undisturbed Etruscan tomb in Alice Rohrwacher’s piquant dramedy La Chimera. As it tells the story of a merry group of Italian grave robbers — known as tombaroli — and the inscrutable Englishman who leads them to the caches of objects they happily sell to the highest bidder, the film examines the allure of pursuing something that always seems just beyond your grasp.

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LA CHIMERA (TIFF 2023) – Review by Rachel West

Move over, Indiana Jones, there’s a new tomb-raiding archaeologist in town in Alice Rohrwacher’s madcap Italian tragi-comedy, La Chimera. Rohrwacher imbues the film with her unique style that feels loose and luxurious. Like the mythical chimera composed of incongruous body parts, the film is a gorgeous blend of style and substance. The story clips along with fast-motion sequences and silent film techniques which paint a truly original picture. Director of Photography Hélène Louvart plays with visuals and aspect ratios using 35mm, 16mm and Super 16 while editor Nelly Quettier brings further oddball energy to the the screen with jump cuts against a soundtrack of infectious Italian rock, folk, and electro-pop.

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LA CHIMERA (Melbourne IFF 2023) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Alice Rohrwacher is back, and the filmmaker who brought us The Wonders (2014) and Happy as Lazzaro (2018) returns with the highly anticipated Palme d’Or nominated (and Palme Dog winning) La Chimera. A generic melange of sped-up slapstick, heist film and romantic fantasy, the film stars Josh O’Connor as Arthur, an archaeologist turned graverobber who returns to the rural Italian home of his lost love Beniamina (Yile Tara Vianello) where he reconnects with her eccentric mother Flora (Isabella Rossellini) and his old tombaroli crew who entice him back into the business of raiding tombs to pilfer Etruscan antiquities. Through Flora he meets the quirky Italia (Carol Duarte), with whom he develops an unexpected connection.

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HOPE GAP – Review by Diane Carson

Among the most popular and praised films from last year, Marriage Story dramatizes, often painfully, a young couple’s separation and alienation. As if adding a postscript, Hope Gap focuses even more intensely on the dissolution of a twenty-nine year marriage. However, instead of giving equal weight to wife Grace and husband Edward, the profile stacks the deck against Grace.

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