“A Chiara”


Screened at the 57th Annual Chicago International Film Festival (3/5)

Finding out your family isn’t what you thought it was can be a personally devastating blow, especially for an impressionable adolescent. So it is for 15-year-old Chiara, who has long innocently believed that her home life is a de facto 24/7 Kodak moment. But, when she witnesses a shocking incident and begins learning startling secrets about her Italian mob member father, she indignantly demands answers, most notably from her apparently better-informed relatives. However, none of her kindreds will respond to her questions, particularly when dad goes missing as a fugitive. How will she resolve these issues to her satisfaction? That’s what writer-director Jonas Carpignano examines in his latest feature film, a crime saga mixed with domestic drama elements told from the perspective of an insatiably inquisitive teenager. As unique as the narrative may be, though, this offering could definitely benefit from better editing (especially in the first half-hour), more plausible plot elements (particularly in the concluding act) and a livelier coda to replace an ending that currently fizzles more than it dazzles. This could have been a fine release with some retooling, but, in its present form, it needs more salt.