Partisan | Film review - Vincent Cassel's cult leader rules the roost in enigmatic thriller
This enigmatically surreal thriller stars Vincent Cassel as a dangerously charismatic cult leader - a mix of Pied Piper, Fagin and Charles Manson - who rules over a commune of women and children, claiming he is protecting them from the evils of the outside world but training his young charges to become assassins.
Australian first-time director Ariel Kleiman offers few clues in Partisan to explain this bizarre situation, largely relating events through the eyes of 11-year-old Alexander (an outstanding debut by Jeremy Chabriel) as he comes to question this tyrannical father figure's authority.
The storytelling is possibly a little too wilfully obscure, but whenever the protagonists leave the commune’s walled-in compound, the desolate urban landscape outside - shot in the former Soviet republic of Georgia - makes a powerful impression.
Certificate 15. Runtime 94 mins. Director Ariel Kleiman
Partisan is showing today on Sky Premiere and is available on DVD from Metrodome.
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A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.