The Australian film industry is having somewhat of a purple patch currently. Off the back of the huge success of George Miller’s new Mad Max outing it has been a bumper year. The likes of The Suicide Theory, The Dressmaker, Frackman and Spear are helping establish Australia one of the most vital and exciting places to be making feature films. Partisan fits nicely in to the country’s output. Whilst extensively a cult drama, Ariel Kleiman’s debut feature has an air of mystery and dystopia surrounding it.
When Alexander (Jeremy Chabriel) is born, Gregori (Vincent Cassel) decides to take him and his mother (Florence Mezzara) away from the uncaring world. A decade has past and they live together in a growing community hidden in the hills next to a town. They are ruled over by the charismatic Gergori, the only adult male. Whilst the children grow up in blissful ignorance they’re quietly trained to become assassins. The arrival of a new mother and son leads to Alexander starting to question their ways.
Partisan is a beautifully constructed film which is both startling and understated. There’s a brilliant performance from Jeremy Chabriel as Alexander. He play the role so perfectly, both in terms of childish naivety and a blossoming awareness of wrongness. Cassel’s malevolence is deftly hidden below his approachable veneer but we glimpse occasional sporadic unhinged outbursts. Partisan is Kleiman’s first full length film and could well be the first step in him replicating the success he’s had with short films.
Partisan is out in cinemas on Friday and available on DVD from Monday.