Chiara review: world turned upside down

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The Mafiosi is still a popular subject for movies and TV series, as it still captures the imagination. A Chiara’s starting point is that they don’t all show off. Jonas Carpignano’s latest film focuses on a family who is sometimes indifferent, more specifically a teenage daughter. In this way, the film still provides a new perspective on the formula for success. We went to the Gent Fest Movie.

double life
Chiara is an ordinary 15 year old girl. She goes in for sports and seems to be one of the bad girls. Her older sister Giulia’s birthday was a milestone for family and friends, so it was a big celebration. However, her father suddenly leaves and in the night Chiara hears her parents arguing. That night, their father’s car was set on fire. In the morning he himself was nowhere to be seen.

He learns through TV that he has a warrant for his arrest and that he is a drug dealer. Her sister and mother seemed to know more but didn’t let go, so Chiara investigated herself. He finds more than he likes, and at the same time his world is turned upside down when Italian cuisine comes to the rescue.

No allure
What immediately strikes you about A Chiara after a few minutes is that it almost looks like a documentary. Handheld cameras are filmed around the clock and often at a distance so as not to interfere with normal life. It’s also all depicted without too many stylistic frills, so no fancy transitions or special angles. Director Jonas Carpignano clearly wants to present a naturalistic portrait here.

Therefore, he took pains to do the building work around the family first. The scene around Giulia’s birthday takes up a lot of time. It highlights the father’s relationship with his daughter. He is clearly very affectionate. For example, he does not give a speech in front of everyone, but tells his daughter separately how proud he is. This reinforces the contrast with what follows from it later.

Casting also contributed to this because, like in his first film, he worked with non-professional actors in A Chiara. Especially from lead actress Swamy Rotolo you can hardly believe that she isn’t acting. The camera is almost always pointed at him and at the same time he is pulling it towards him. The rest of the family is really his family, which gives everything an extra dimension.

It also makes you wonder if the Italian government’s way of curbing intergenerational violence is the right way to go. You understand why they do it, but at the same time you get to see what effect it has on these kids. In the end, Carpignano delivers a film that isn’t full of cliches but continues to build a sad parallel at the end that emphasizes the whole situation once again.

A Chiara deals with difficult mafiosi themes and the impact their work has on their families, with all the consequences. By telling everything from a girl’s point of view, you get a different and more nuanced view of the matter. The cast of non-professional actors adds to the naturalistic feel of this film.