"Athena", on Netflix, turns the city into a war zone


Co-founder in 1994 of the Kourtrajmé association, which works to spread the practice of cinema to populations who do not have access to it, Romain Gavras, son of the filmmaker and president of La Cinémathèque française Costa Gavras, also pursues an activity as a director of clips and advertising films, as well as a work of fiction. He is, in this last capacity, the author of three feature films made in the space of twelve years. After Our day Will Come (2010), radicalization of waltzers breviary way of the hatred of two madmen who hit everything that moves, then The world is yours (2018), black comedy making its honey from the crass stupidity of its protagonists, we discover today Athenaproduced and broadcast by the Netflix platform starting Friday, September 23.

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The film, which makes a city the scene of an armed insurrection after the police cause the death of a teenager there, revives a tradition of French cinema which runs from Hatred (1995), by Mathieu Kassovitzto Miserables (2019), by Ladj Ly, via My 6-T is going to crack-er (1997), by Jean-Francois Richetand Dheepan (2015), by Jacques Audiard. Co-written precisely with Ladj Ly, Athena is of all these titles the one that takes the ball the furthest towards the war film. We will not find there, alas, this depth both of the characters and of the feelings at work in Wretchedwhich allowed the viewer to understand the outbursts of violence.

It is an inverse cause defended by Romain Gavras, who seems to want to place himself, as often, in a state beyond the principle of causality, in a state of anger and exasperation which is there from the outset because, leaves us one supposes, the dykes would have given way a long time ago. Violence first, therefore, reflection then, if there is room. The film defined as a stick of dynamite. The fuse is the death of a youth killed by the police. The setting is that of the city Athena. The reference is that of classic tragedy, with the three brothers of the deceased who each embody a supposedly generational response to the death of their younger brother.

Spectacular drunkenness

Moktar (Ouassini Embarek), the eldest, is a cocaine dealer to the marrow who only cares about himself and reigns terror in the city. Abdel (Dali Benssalah) chose the path of integration and became a soldier. Karim (Sami Slimane), the youngest, takes the lead in the riot led by the youngest. These three will meet at various times in the film to determine the advances and bifurcations. But under these tinsel, we feel that the thing that interests Romain Gavras is the stage of the explosion, that is to say the staging of pure action and the aestheticization of violence. Which give rise to pieces of bravery. The preliminary invasion of the police station by young people organized in a commando style. The city filmed as an ancient citadel besieged by the dark mass of law enforcement. Chases in the mazes. The recurring freakouts.

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