The latest debut feature film by Australian director Ariel Kleiman is child assassin film, Partisan.
The storyline focuses on Alexander (Jeremy Chabriel’s debut performance) who lives in a bizzare cult compound, connected to the desolate outside world through only a series of tunnels.
The film is made even more surreal by the ambiguous location and accents of its inhabitants.
Cult leader and father figure Gregori (Vincent Cassel) takes in women and their children and trains them as assassins.
However, the target practice and assassination enactments are just another part of the day for the children of the compound.
Training fits into their daily schedules which includes gardening and science – all taught by Gregori.
The running of the compound is stirred by the arrival of a new family taken in by Gregori, young Leo (Alex Balaganskiy), his mother (Katalin Hegedus), and her new baby.
Not having grown up in the compound, Leo is quick to question its running.
After witnessing a few horrific incidents, Gregori is forced to call a meeting. He stated, “I know that some of you have never seen that kind of anger and aggression,” he says. “These are the acts of a boy with a troubled brain.” However, it prompts a change in Alexander, who sees a different side of Gregori than he is used to.
This is as much a thriller as a coming of age story. Following Alexander’s life between his 11th and 12th birthday, he begins to discover what kind of a man Gregori is, and must decide what kind of a man he will be become.
The film maintains an impressive level of suspense and tension throughout.
Chabriel gives a mature yet innocent performance, and Cassel is both sensitive and tyrannical.
This is darkly beautiful film marks Ariel Kleiman as a filmmaker to keep your eye on.
Words by Hannah Abell
Details: Partisan | Rated CTC | Palace Cinemas | Released 28 May 2015