It might be thought that a film depicting the calm attempts of a private investment banker to retain his firm’s clients after his partner goes AWOL could perhaps struggle to hold an audience’s attention. This assumption proves to be correct.
It’s 1980, and Swiss banker Yvan (Fabrizio Rongione) arrives in Buenos Aires with his wife Inés (Stéphanie Cléau). He’s there to pick up the pieces following the disappearance of his enigmatic partner, Keys, which has left the bank’s local clients wondering just how to obscure their ill-gotten vast sums of money. Yvan and Inés then spend time in a variety of luxury hotels, sumptuous country estates and private members’ clubs as they cooly reassure some very rich people that they’ll be able to remain very rich.
Azor might be a faithful depiction of the opaque and underhanded ways in which Argentina’s elite handled their finances while the country was under the thumb of a military dictatorship, but this doesn’t result in many tangible rewards for those watching.
Director Andreas Fontana has taken a curious route with his material, trying to construct a sense of intrigue without offering sufficient contextual clues. This results in a feature that is impenetrable to a significant degree, not giving the audience enough in the first place to leave them wanting more. Frustratingly, potential elements that could have piqued interest are left in the background – primarily the mysteriously absent partner.
Keys is described in blunt, scathing terms, with words such as depraved, despicable, manipulator and dangerous flung in his direction. This is not a passing fancy either: the character is referenced a lot, with a menacing monsignor actually pausing for an instant and arching his eyebrows before saying the name. It seems that wherever the missing banker is, and whatever he’s doing, it’s infinitely more interesting than what is unfolding on the screen. The film has lost its Keys, leaving the audience well and truly locked out.
Azor does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
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Watch the trailer for Azor here: