Review: Chiara

– VENICE 2022: Susanna Nicchiarelli paints the credible and rhetorical portrait of a revolutionary saint, girl and woman

Margherita Mazzucco in Clear

In his latest feature film, presented in competition at the 79th Venice exhibition and titled Clear [+leggi anche:
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, Susanna Nicchiarelli he decides to tell a little less than twenty years of the life of the homonymous saint. The story begins in Assisi in 1211, when Chiara (played by Margherita Mazzuccomade famous by the hit series The brilliant friend [+leggi anche:
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), barely eighteen, escapes from his father’s house to join his friend Francesco (Andrea Carpenzano). Taking refuge in a monastery and joined by her younger sister Agnes, she begins to live in poverty and according to the Word of God with her sisters.

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The film is acted entirely in the vernacular. At times, the speech can be difficult to follow, although it is worth pointing out that all the actors do a discreet job, making it quite natural and spontaneous.

Among the cast members, Margherita Mazzucco stands out thanks to her seraphic and courageous portrait of a girl and a woman who will not bow to the violence of her family and to the pressure exerted by Cardinal Ugolini and future Pope Gregory IX (a sibylline Luigi Lo Cascio), wishing only to live with her sisters in poverty and in freedom, similarly to the Franciscan brothers. The actress also develops a good alchemy with Andrea Carpenzano. Their relationship of brotherhood and friendship is pure and sincere but not without conflicts. The latter, in particular, emerge in the light of the papal recognition that Francis receives for his work. According to the pontiff, however, Chiara is not worthy, as a woman, “to set an example” and preach the Word of God outside the walls of the monastery.

The rest of the cast, in possession of a good physique du rôle, avoids making everything emphatic and rhetorical. This is a noteworthy result and difficult to achieve, especially if you work on characters who speak mainly of miracles, compassion, spirituality and pious works.

The musical inserts, sung and danced, are quite organic and are well orchestrated. They are more reminiscent of theatrical pauses than of actual scenes, celebrating key moments in the narrative such as the healing of the elderly sister Balvina (Paola Tiziana Cruciani).

Nicchiarelli asks a Crystel Fournier to create a photograph with warm colors, capable of enhancing the expressiveness of the protagonists’ marked faces, the surrounding and uncontaminated nature and the austere and sparse beauty of the religious buildings. The sequence in which the famous Canticle of creatures is recited and the scene that portrays Chiara in front of the monastery and gradually surrounded by a flock of pigeons, are perhaps among the most exciting and visually inspired. On several occasions, moreover, the space and the staging are managed in a symmetrical way and with the actors facing frontally towards the room, recalling quite clearly the Christian iconography of the time.

The final scene almost seems to belong to another type of story and ends up transporting the viewer – at least for a few moments – into a new dimension, decidedly more earthly and contemporary in stylistic and musical terms. In its simplicity, the closure works, giving the viewer a great sense of peace and completeness.

Clear is an Italian-Belgian co-production signed by Live Film, Tarantula Belgique And Rai Cinema. 01 Distribution deals with the Italian distribution, while The Match Factory manages international sales.

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Review: Chiara