The tension between father and wilful son is only intensified when papa is the leader of a murderous cult. An intelligently controlled drama highlighted by standout performances from Vincent Cassel and newcomer Jeremy Chabriel.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2015
In a secluded compound on the outskirts of a dusty war-torn town, the adored Gregori (Vincent Cassel) holds sway over a bustling refuge for women and children. The children only venture beyond the walls when assigned by the patriarch to visit given addresses. There they must confirm the identity of whoever answers their knock, before shooting him or her point blank. One child, the steely cool Alexander, bridles at the violence and mounts a passive-aggressive revolt. Channelling recognisable contemporary scenarios and sociopathic behaviours into a richly detailed fictional universe that’s bracingly specific, and yet nowhere specific at all, Partisan marks a strikingly assured debut for Australian Ariel Kleiman. He says he and screenwriting partner Sarah Cyngler (who also worked on production design and costumes) took inspiration from learning about child assassins in Colombia.
“In French newcomer Jeremy Chabriel as 11-year-old Alexander, with his feline blue-green eyes and piercing, emotionless gaze, the film has a young protagonist who is every inch a match for Cassel’s perfidiously charismatic Gregori.” — David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter