The experience of watching a film, at its core, comes down to sound and image. The best – or at least the most memorable – ones tend to find some way of making them work in harmony.
Pardon the extremely vague, theoretical introduction, but Ariel Kleinman’s mesmerizing “Partisan” has such a striking visual and aural power that it inspires reflection on the elemental levels of cinema. The way he orchestrates the camera of Germain McMicking and pairs it with the humming melodies of composer Daniel Lopatin produces a hypnotic trance that somehow does not distract from the intellectual issues he raises.
“Partisan” contains echoes of “The Master” as it quietly examines how one man can inculcate an insular community with his radical ideology. Vincent Cassel’s authoritative Gregori does not have his sights set on the heavenly, though – he teaches young children how to carry out terroristic deeds against those who presume their innocence. It’s never entirely clear what ultimate aim Gregori hopes to achieve, but it never really matters. Kleinman simply wants to show the mechanisms of his control and their horrifying results.
The film mostly assumes the perspective of Alexander, a prized assassin among the commune who begins to question and doubt the rectitude of his deeds. As he grows more skeptical, the camerawork changes from eerily stable and fluid in depicting the charge to violence toward a shakier, scarier schema. Plot and ideological grandstanding are minimal, which comes as a nice change of pace. The world needs to think about terrorism at this fundamental, simplistic level. Perhaps, without the baggage of nationality or religion, “Partisan” can inspire such thought. B+ /