Ending the ‘Calabrian trilogy’, Carpignano’s loosely connected neorealist triptych chronicles deprivation, crime and community in the small Italian port city of Gioia Tauro. Like Mediterranea and A Ciambra before it, A Chiara’s slice-of-life naturalism and self-contained narrative make it work excellently as a stand-alone piece.
A harsh coming-of-age story, Carpignano’s focus is on 15-year-old Chiara (arrestingly played by Swamy Rotolo, another of the director’s indelible local finds). When her dad is named as part of the ‘Ndrangheta mafia, her protected world is suddenly blown apart. A traumatic dislocation, she grapples with the sins of her father – reconsidering not only her own place in the family, but the meaning of family itself. Uncertain and uncanny, the nail in the coffin of heady mobster movies is hammered home; and all the better for it.
Threadbare and depopulated, A Chiara is a tactile world-within-a-world; dimly lit with the glow of phone-screens. Carpignano’s layered use of ambient urgency and unsaid reflections build to a shattering climax. While critics are clamouring to outline the many lessons Carpignano has learned after working with Martin Scorsese, the film has much more in common with the crepuscular work of Paul Schrader – the writer of Taxi Driver. Lynne Ramsay meets Gomorrah.
A future classic, the film broadens the panoramic mosaic of Gioia Tauro, the microcosmic modern world explored throughout the trilogy. ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
- Starts Jun 23 D: Jonas Carpignano (Italy, 2022), with Swam Rotolo, Claudio Rotolo