Azor (2021)

ANDREAS FONTANA

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

//, 2021. , , , . Screenplay by Andreas Fontana, . Cinematography by . Produced by , . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by .

Swiss banker Ivan de Wiel () has come to 1970s Argentina with his wife Ines () during a military dictatorship, officially as tourists but actually so that he can replace his predecessor, a man named Rene Keys, who disappeared without a word to his clients or to anyone else at the esteemed private banking firm that he was there representing, and which de Wiels’ grandfather co-founded.

To anyone who asks, de Wiel says that Keys is back in Switzerland and that all is well, but in reality nobody knows if the man ran away or got into trouble, rumours swirl around the couple at each social function they attend, some saying that Keys was dangerous and unethical, others that he was the victim of wrongdoing; a significant client agrees to meet with our visiting protagonist and his terse communication suggests that the firm is going to lose his business, which is a bad sign of things to come.

The atmosphere is, at first, seemingly calm in this spaced out, confident drama, this isn’t a highly charged political thriller about the Dirty War that plays any of its situations out in an obvious or overt manner. The people that de Wiel speaks to aren’t threatening, they are threatened, in their privileged positions fully confused about the changes happening around them, but as he moves up a chain of contacts towards suited men in private clubs and begins to get closer to the truth, the hold that this understated film has had on your attention begins to feel like a rope very slowly tightening around your neck: the choice that de Wiel eventually has to make is whether it’s more important to find out the truth or to survive.

The low hum of quiet but dangerous gossip and government intrigue is intoxicating despite so much of this film’s plot feeling so esoteric, the conversations about politics that seem so cryptic are that much more exciting for their obscurity, and the perfect casting of the supporting performers as members of an unmotivated elite lacking in ambition provides a roster of fascinating personalities. Rongione holds the film together with his confident lead performance, his eyes betray nothing as he falls deeper into a rabbit hole of dangerous secrets that he knows he might never climb out of, skillfully navigating between finding out as much as he can without ever giving too much away.

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