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A CHIARA (2021, ITA) – 7.5 / 10

We met the American-Italian filmmaker Jonas Carpignan in 2017 with the drama “A Ciambra”, and his next film, “A Chiara”, is a kind of sequel to its predecessor. And not only because it was shot in an almost identical naturalistic style, but also because the action takes place in the same Calabrian town, but also because the young actor Pio Amato, who was the main protagonist in “A Ciambra”, appears in an interesting episode. From the outskirts of the Calabrian town and Roma settlement where “A Ciambra” took place, “A Chiara” moved to the center of the same unnamed place in southern Italy where we now follow the fate of 15-year-old Chiara Guerrasio (debutant Swamy Rotolo).

As in the previous film, Carpignano hired only naturalists, so all members of the Guerrasio family are played by members of the same family in reality. She seems all here and more than authentic, she is a real docudrama, and the world will collapse for Chiara when she realizes that her father is a member of the notorious mafia from the south of Italy, ‘Ndranghete. And she will realize it in a horrible way, when the car of her father Claudio (Claudio Rotolo) takes off after the celebration of her sister Giulia’s 18th birthday. Her father will then disappear, and Chiara will be left without any explanation. Although she probably subconsciously at least guessed what her father might be doing, she certainly didn’t dream that old Claudio was part of a notorious smuggling organization that had actually been under house arrest all along and was now apparently hiding somewhere.

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Where exactly, no one wants to tell Chiara who is being offered the opportunity to be adopted into a “normal” family in northern Italy and thus opens up the possibility for her life to unfold in a completely different direction from other family members. Although she is extremely attached to her family, especially her father, Chiara is a bright girl and is aware of what the future holds if she decides to stay in Calabria. But she simply doesn’t seem to be able to make a decision until she confronts her father at all costs. Carpignano introduced himself with this film at the directorial evenings of the Cannes Film Festival, and just like the previous film, one of the producers of the film was the famous Martin Scorsese. After the films “Mediterranea” and “A Ciambra”, it was “A Chiara” and the final part of his Gioia Tauro Calabrian trilogy.

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After dealing in the first film with illegal immigrants to the south of Italy, then the Roma community that survives mainly by dealing with crime, he has now turned his attention to the world of the notorious southern mafia. And not in the expected direction, ie from the perspective of the mobsters themselves, but a 15-year-old girl who is aware that all this is happening in her environment and that she is unknowingly part of it, but she is not even aware of how much. The film is with a strong humanistic note and shows in an impressive, authentic, completely naturalistic way what such a life looks like. It is a film about family and family values, a quality realistic drama that still lags behind its predecessor, but “A Chiara” is still worth watching.

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