Children killing things is a rather popular subgenre at the moment, and Australian director Ariel Kleiman has jumped on the bandwagon with a rather different take on the idea.
A coming-of-age tale with a twist, 11-year-old Alex (Jeremy Chabriel) is the eldest of a cult-like adopted family of child assassins. As the first child patriarch Gregori (Vincent Cassel) adopted, he holds a special place in his would-be father’s heart and is expected to set an example for the younger children. As Alex gets older, however, and after his mother falls pregnant, Alex starts to question Gregori’s methods.
It’s not the most original of tales at heart, but it’s just different enough to remain interesting. There are a few moments of well executed tension but, though Partisan is definitely more artistic than higher budget films dealing with similar subject matter, it’s nowhere near as thrilling.
Set in an indeterminate time, in an indeterminate country, Kleiman has created a very intriguing world that ultimately leaves the viewer with more questions than answers. Gregori’s cult, his reasons for its existence, the means with which he lures women and children into it are all only briefly touched upon but, rather than being frustrating, this uncertainty is somehow captivating. Had this story been about Gregori, his rise and fall, why he thinks the way he thinks, it would have been truly magnificent. But this is not Gregori’s story, this is Alex’s and unfortunately, Alex just doesn’t make for very interesting viewing.
Vincent Cassel is magnetic, playing the part of a deeply complicated man with ease, on the surface the tender father-figure, underneath a manipulative, violent man. The rest of the cast though, is just too inexperienced to do the complicated roles justice, Alex in particular. Though some of his blandness could be written off as Alex’s somewhat repressed, quiet character, there are scenes where he shines and scenes where he doesn’t, and in such a character-driven piece it’s a problem.
Partisan does not have a UK release date yet.
Watch the trailer for Partisan here: