Italian director Jonas Carpignano continues his searching portrait of Calabrian life with the story of a teen girl coping with her father’s secret life.
15-year-old Chiara is close to her loving but stern father. But when a car explodes and she sees her father running away from the scene of the crime, it becomes clear the life he leads outside of her home. With him on the run, Chiara goes off the rails, resulting in a social worker being involved in her case and the family threatened with legal separation. But when the family is so loving as Chiara’s, how will such an action help them?
Carpignano’s third film after Mediterranea and A Ciambra once again focuses on life in the region dominated by the ‘Ndrangheta, the Calabrian Mafia. Setting most of the action indoors, the filmmaker ups the ante in terms of suspense and claustrophobia, acknowledging the stifling atmosphere Chiara feels when the realisation of her father’s profession sets in. Carpignano doesn’t judge his characters – the crimes of Chiara’s father or the girl’s racism towards Roma people – which only emphasises the strong bond of the family, who are played by a real-life family. Succeeding as a standalone film and within the growing tapestry of Carpignano’s multi-faceted, interconnected portraits, A Chiara succeeds in being an intimate character portrait and a fascinating, if unsettling, overview of a community’s way of life.