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    Mark Tolch
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  • Partisan

    Released By:
    Well Go USA
    Released On: December 08, 2015.
    Director: Ariel Kleiman
    Cast: Vincent Cassel, Nigel Barber, Jeremy Chabriel, Florence Mezzara
    Year: 2015
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Film:

    Gregori (Vincent Cassel) is the patriarch of a rather strange family, an isolated communal group of women and their pre-teen children. Partly an exercise in polygamy and partially cult, the group live a seemingly care-free existence that is self-sustaining, with a garden, chicken coop, recreational facilities, and a school in which Gregori instructs his young charges. Hot days are spent lounging in kiddie pools, with Gregori presiding in Speedo-clad majesty, Friday nights see the group gathering around the karaoke machine to hear the children sing grown-up songs of love and heartbreak. And, every so often, Uncle Charlie arrives with gifts of money and jewelry, along with that month's hit contracts.

    Wait, what? Yes, that's right. Aside from teaching the kids the staples of reading, writing, and 'rithmetic, Gregori is also teaching them in the fine art of close-quarters assassination in order to keep his commune running with the profits from a murder-for-hire business. A very successful business, it might be added, as the targets are often caught off-guard by armed children popping caps left and right with no concern outside of having their earplugs in to deaden the volume of gunfire. As the kids advance through their exercises within the compound, studying maps of the nearby city and carrying out paintball contract killings on their friends, their eyes are on the prize; a personal blue backpack that will carry their personal firearm and signify their graduation.

    But trouble in paradise arrives for Gregori when his most lethal student, 11 year-old Alexander, starts to question the authority his father figure is exerting over the women and children of the compound. A chance encounter in the outside world and a freak occurrence within the walls of the commune trigger Alexander's disdain for the older man, resulting in a public display of defiance and a bizarre and deadly power struggle between the two guarantees that only one of them will walk away intact.

    For a newcomer to the world of feature film, Writer/Director Ariel Kleiman has created a surprisingly effective film in Partisan that could best be described as a slow burn; he shrouds the majority of the running time in mystery, keeping the storyline engaging but bewildering, as the viewer tries to connect the dots in what's unfolding on the screen. When the film really gets going, the investment pays off, with the dynamic and conflict between the characters coming across as totally believable and emotionally stirring.

    Of course, the cast on display here doesn't hurt that in the least. Vincent Cassel is MIND-BLOWINGLY fantastic as Gregori, far and away exceeding past roles, and he flits effortlessly between lizardy control freak and concerned and caring father. And then there's the aforementioned Speedo... Likewise, Jeremy Chabriel nails the role of Alexander, with his deadpan delivery keeping his methods mysterious from his introduction right through to the powerful finale. The rest of the minimal cast deliver equally as well, and there's not one bad, or even mediocre performance on display here. Considering the very simplistic plot and minimal onscreen activity of Partisan, it is a brilliant and effective film.


    Well Go USA brings Partisan to Blu-ray in an AVC-encoded 2.35:1 transfer that looks wonderful, with solid blacks, a well-defined colour palette and crisp detail. As should be the case in a recent film, there are no blemishes or visual issues on display here.

    There are two audio tracks provide, a 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio track and a lossy Dolby Digital stereo track. The lossless surround track is definitely the way to go here, with very delicate use of the surrounds and low frequencies. Dialogue is nicely balanced with the effects and remains clear and consistent throughout.

    English Subtitles are included on this release.

    A Trailer Reel for other Well Go releases and a Trailer for Partisan can be found in the supplements, as well as two separate interviews. The first is with Writer/Director Ariel Kleiman (15:00) and among other things covers his film background and the inspiration for making Partisan. Be forewarned that Kleiman is one of those people that sounds like he's asking a question with every sentence.

    A second interview with Vincent Cassel (9:09) includes his impression of the film, how he got involved, and his assessment of the character of Gregori.

    The Final Word:

    It's always a pleasant surprise to be caught off guard by an unheard-of filmmaker, and Partisan was definitely a pleasure to see. Well Go has done a great job of presenting this film, so get on it.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

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