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  Azor Don't Speak
Year: 2021
Director: Andreas Fontana
Stars: Fabrizio Rongione, Stephane Cleau, Carmen Iriondo, Juan Trench, Ignacio Vila, Pablo Torre Nilson, Juan Pablo Geretto, Alexandre Trocki, Yvain Juillard, Augustina Munoz, Elli Medeiros, Gilles Privat, Alain Gegenschatz, Pablo Larralde, Raul Lissarague
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ivan de Weil (Fabrizio Rongione) has travelled to Argentina on a business trip with his wife Ines (Stephane Cleau), but this is no simple deal making exercise, more a protection of assets as his partner in the company, Keys, has not been in contact for some time, and concerns are growing back in Switzerland as to what has happened to him. De Weil has made up his mind to find out once and for all, but this is the Argentina of 1980 and the fact remains people disappear all the time thanks to the military junta in power there - could Keys be a casualty of this? Precisely what did he discover when he was working in Buenos Aires?

Or did he simply say the wrong thing to the wrong people at the wrong time and suffer for it? Argentina was coming to terms with its troubled past through cinema, which seemed to be a coping strategy growing popular in South America for those nations who had emerged from dictatorships, Brazil and Chile among them: use the benefits of movies to help citizens consider the sins of the past. This was very much a theme in global cinema, to be honest, as the ghosts of that past loomed large in their societies, silently asking why they were allowed to be put through such horrendous hardship, that was assuming the hardship was over, or had mutated into a different form.

So while the West and North had colonialism to sharpen their minds and their words, Argentina had the so-called Dirty War casting a long shadow over the present of the twenty-twenties. Though really it was a Swiss director who was bringing this version of events to the screen, Andreas Fontana, albeit one with ties to Argentina through his family which gave him a little more justification than most in Europe for exploring this subject matter. He concocted a mood of creeping menace, as the further de Weil delves into the disappearance of his colleague, the worse people he meets who are all in cahoots with an obsessively murderous government.

They are merrily helping themselves to their citizens' money and property, and have graduated from the poorer members of that society to grabbing what they can from the rich, since obviously they have more to exploit. If you are not with the authorities, you are assuredly against them, even if you never voiced a political thought in public, they see their enemies everywhere and a thought police operation is underway. So much as seem a little suspicious, or be in the wrong place, or have someone cast doubt on your loyalty to the cause, and you can very well be taken away at three o'clock in the morning, flown out over the Atlantic and dropped in to your death, because that was the way the Argentinian junta kept order back then: by terrifying their population.

This abritrariness of who is picked up and who is not is part of that controlling fear, and we begin to worry for de Weil as he keeps politely needling various high-ups, soldiers, businessmen, the clergy, mysterious power brokers and so on, to discover where Keys is. The trouble with that dramatically was that was more or less all he did, he kept asking, he kept being fobbed off until the finale where he was taken out to the jungle and told it like it was, which weirdly satisfies him as he embraces the hellish corruption rife in their community. As an exercise in selling your soul, Azor had some interest, but as you were well aware Keys wasn't coming back anytime soon, the experience of following the protagonist around posh resorts, racetracks and mansions became deadening and held no real surprise, merely a sick feeling at what was gotten away with there. Music by Paul Courlet, which at least tries to inject overt tension.

[Click here to watch on MUBI.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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