Chiara | Venice Film Festival 2022 review

Chiara |  Venice Film Festival 2022 review

Sister and her sisters: Nicchiarelli salutes a saint in solemn and dull re-enactment of the period

Review by Susanna Nicchiarelli ChiaraThe friendship between St. Francis of Assisi and his obscure female counterpart St. Clare has long been a cinematic fascination, with the latter’s contributions to a religious doctrine ripe for reconsideration. In your long room, chiara, Susanna Nicchiarelli attempts to do just that with a seventeen-year drama, tracing the young woman’s union with Francis to the establishment of her own brotherhood committed to poverty. While the subject lends itself to a necessary rigidity, Nicchiarelli can only convey a sense of the interminable in this heavy exercise, trying to liven up the production with musical numbers that are both distracting and embarrassing.

The energy holier than you is a chore without the necessary age progression of both saints to convey the passage of time and eventually the test of their ideals by a hierarchical religion that hardly tolerates gender equanimity in your dependence on fear based devotion.

The year is 1211. Eighteen-year-old Chiara (Margherita Mazzucco) has run away from her wealthy family alongside Pacifica (Flaminca Macin) to join her childhood friend Francesco (Andrea Carpenzano), better known as Saint Francis of Assisi. , to join their religious commune dedicated to living in poverty and without hierarchy. Their shared vision initially inspires a multitude of like-minded people, with Chiara’s reputation as a healer sweeping the region. The Church itself is not so keen on the idea that women have any sort of privilege or power outside of a convent, and pressure is placed on Francis. In exchange for the publication of a Rule recognized by the Church, Francis determines that the separation of the sexes is necessary, which automatically makes Chiara and her followers vulnerable. But time heals all wounds, and Chiara is positioned to seize an opportunity, eventually anointed Santa Clara de Assis.

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Nicchiarelli’s treatment is a far cry from that of Roberto Rossellini The Flowers of San Francisco (1950), with the cast of Andrea Caprenzano, who transforms the famous persona into a beautiful recreation that Pasolini could have generated. His relationship with Santa Clara was previously examined in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1972 film Brother Sun, Sister Moonwith Judi Bowker as Clare (and Alec Guinness scoring an Oscar nomination as Pope Innocent III).

Nicchiarelli’s age progression is almost entirely absent, though Francis suffers from debilitating health issues and Margherita Mazzucco apparently doesn’t age. Ultimately, chiara plays like a fervent religious fantasy desperate to reclaim Santa Clara’s legacy, which is an honorable reclaim in itself, but the seriousness of the tone tends to make much of it laughable, as the friars back the moon with dreamy smiles and idiotic personalities. Mazzucco certainly carries the film in the best possible light, while Nicchiarelli’s script cohesively describes what the struggles and goals of his mission were.

With Francis’ equanimity eventually set aside by Cardinal Ugolini (Luigi Lo Cascio, concurrently with Gianni Amelio lord of the ants) evident disdain for women, and such sentiments were supported by the church, Clara and her ‘little sisters’ end up lining up with the church’s wishes when Ugoloni becomes pope (in one of the more ridiculous exchanges of the scene, when the new pope blatantly chews all the sisters’ gourmet dishes). Clara sacrifices her freedom by agreeing to be cloistered and, in exchange, to be the first woman to publish a recognized Rule within the church.

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Once again, there is a significant story worthy of a narrative device, but as a recovery of the period, its attitudes and its visual precision, something more in the tonal lines of Vision (2009), Margarethe von Trotta’s biopic of Hildegard von Bingen, the German nun and visionary, may have allowed chiara feel less like a series of disturbing vignettes steeped in anachronisms.

Revised September 9 at the Venice Film Festival 2022 – In Competition. 106 Min.


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