Cinema Review: Partisan | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, March 30th, 2020  


Studio: Well Go USA
Directed by Ariel Kleiman

Oct 02, 2015 Web Exclusive
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Vincent Cassel’s primal physicality and threatening charm are front and center in this taut dystopian fable. He stars as Gregori, the charismatic leader of a small cult nestled in the mountains outside an anonymous Australian city accessible only through a secret passage in the hillside that opens up into an almost serene courtyard complete with chickens, a garden and a fountain. Gregori is the only man, playing the role of boss, father, leader, husband, lover and teacher, among several women and their young children recruited by him to populate his Eden. Bearded and shirtless, he oversees the kids’ education. In addition to teaching integral survival skills and core concepts, he imparts a xenophobic paranoia and mistrust of the outside world.  Once they are old enough, they learn to shoot guns. What seems at first to be a mostly idyllic, though slightly oppressive community, is in fact a training ground for tiny hit men.

The revelation that these innocents are carrying out targeted killings is less shocking than it should be. Sinister from the start, it’s a story that inevitably careens toward disaster. When the eldest boy, 11-year-old Alexander, begins to rebel, Gregori -- so tightly wound, about to snap at any hint of a threat to his authority -- is unprepared for the challenge of overseeing a questioning pre-teen. Tension mounts almost unbearably as young Alexander and his father figure square off and the two men become archetypes representing opposing worldviews. But instead of provoking thought, in the final moments, the film retreats into ambiguity, revealing it to be not much more than a sophomoric thought exercise.

Author rating: 6.5/10

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