Title – Partisan (2015)
Director – Ariel Kleiman (feature debut)
Cast – Vincent Cassel, Jeremy Chabriel, Florence Mezzara
Plot – In a secluded commune run by the mysterious Gregori (Cassel), young boy Alexander (Chabriel) starts to question Gregori’s rule and the tasks his been given, which sets about a domino effect of increasingly tense confrontations.
“What would you rather? Be hit by a man or hit a man first?”
Review by Eddie on 13/11/2015
For all intents and purposes Partisan neither feels like, looks like or acts like an Australian film despite it very much so being one. It’s a rare thing for an Australian film to achieve that feat of not actually feeling Australian and while it’s hard to know whether in the case of Ariel Kleiman’s film here if this is a good thing, it’s not hard for one to feel that Partisan is a sadly frustrating experience to witness.
Filmed in a dark, gloomy and atmospheric fashion by first time feature film director Kleiman, Partisan looks the part and while it’s never stated where or at what time this film takes place, it has an almost 1984 feel to proceedings that gives it a universal feel that this is a tale that could be happening anywhere in our great big world. The troubling thing about Partisan is that this non-disclosure of where the film is taking place is just one of many things that it never lets the audience into.
Kleiman’s whole film feels eerie, almost an Oliver Twist gone bad type feel as Vincent Cassel’s Gregori looks over and trains his not so merry band of children to go about some pretty confronting missions, but Partisan never cares to absolutely let us into its mindset, although it’s clear Gregori is some type of saviour to women in need.
You keep watching in hope of finding out more behind the whole thing but sadly the answers are never forthcoming, which is a shame as young actor Jeremy Chabriel handles himself well despite his character of Alexander not being an overly endearing one and Vincent Cassel (a last minute replacement of Oscar Isaac) acquits himself well. Kleiman also shows enough to suggest his future endeavours could be quite the treat and the films soundtrack by Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never) is easily one of the year’s best.
It’s all fine and well to have your film remain shrouded in some mystery but unfortunately for Partisan there’s just too much mystery and not enough answers and the film suffers emotionally for it and fails to engage in the way in which it so easily could’ve. A unique Australian backed effort with moments of genuine greatness, Partisan has wins but far far too many losses to compensate for.
2 upside-down chickens out of 5