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Friday, April 20, 2012

"Z", essential thriller against corrupt governments


Seeing "Z" for the second time, after many years, has given me very contradictory feelings. Story-wise, and having in mind this is a true but fictionalized account of what happened in Greece, as the powerful ends of the credit announces "Any resemblance to real persons or events is DELIBERATE", is still mind-blowing and defiant. Even more, it's a much needed film today. Corruption, lies, violence, repression is what the people of Greece has received from its goverment and elites, and the same can be said as us, Spaniards, as well as the majority of our supposedly democratic Europe (or the Arab spring area, or Syria). But at the same time, an quite frustratingly, time has taken its toll on "Z",  in particular in the areas of film making and acting.

The importance of "Z" resides in its straightforward and vivid translation into screen of a major political crisis. The events are located in an unnamed Mediterranian country, where the characters speak French. Conservative generals orchestrate the murder of a popular politician, who is trying to shake the pillars of the government/regime with his pacifist message. Once the crisis explode, all the elements of the political "establishment" will try to stop the investigation that tries to find the truth of the vile conspiracy.

Its scary how close the plot still sounds today. Corruption, repression, a political system trying to maintain their status and privileges by all means, even if that means using violence against its citizens? Check. Check. Check. We need another Costa-Gavras (or several) brave enough to create another "Z" in the euro and "wikileaks" age. Fascism may have a different face in the new millennium, and maybe is not as pedestrian or ordinary as the one portrayed in the film, but watching it again I could easily think of "our own" politicians, Ministers, Consellers (Catalonian ministers) and a long troupe of suit-and-tie scumbags (apologies for the insult, but they really don't deserve much consideration, seeing how they are behaving).

Having praised "Z" as a political thriller that has to be seen for its contents and message, still so relevant, I have to admit that in terms of aesthetics, film making or acting, the film has been seriously hurt by the passing of time. Acting is particularly odd, even annoying sometimes, with an unwanted feeling of  being in front of a satire due to the awkward situations of absurd humour, completely lost on current day audiences. Then we have the very disturbing flashbacks, or the inclusion of characters like the one played by Irene Papas, completely irrelevant, all adding to a clumsy and slow paced rhythm, that can be tedious for many. I could understand people leaving the room in the middle of the film, without the patience to sit through its entire length.

Frankly, I'm a bit puzzled, sad to see how badly the years have treated "Z". But at least the message remains powerful and necessary, so I would still recommend to watch it. This is what this review should look like, being divided into two different categories:
Movie content/plot/message: 9
Film making: 4

SCORE: 6,5/10

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