Athena was presented on 2 September in competition at the 79th edition of the Venice Film Festival. It is an entirely French production and will be released on Netflix from 23 September. Enclosed in just 97 minutes, it is directed and partly written and produced by the French director born in ’81 Romain Gavras.
Athena, what are you talking about?
We are in France, a boy is killed during a fire fight with the police, this young man has 3 brothers and one of them decides to start an anarchist revolt in order to find answers and get the names of the agents involved. Hence a massacre on several fronts that will see a family slowly disintegrate, in a struggle that is as internal as it is public.
Athena, the review
A destiny, clear ideals and a great desire for revenge within a turbulent context. Three brothers each tormented by their own inner demons, but united by an indelible family love, fight in a blind struggle, both conceptual and physical, facing circumstances in completely different ways and risking everything and without room for maneuver.
Stubborn search for truth or some form of justice, this is the ramification that Athena immediately pursues towards an unexpectedly revealing ending, which tinges a war-urban movie with a thriller aftertaste.
Death, tears and despair draw an accurate disorder, a chaos built on the implementation of a personal law, its own creed made up of violence and revolution. The film is immediately an adrenaline-fueled whirlwind of sequences, a war of totally immersive and interminable sequence shots, embellished with stunning acting performances.
To frame this intriguing structure we can admire a steady direction, which firmly articulates music, colors, plays of shadows, smoke and lights that mark an incessant rhythm through array of darkness and light. Frames that chase characters as if to make them totally focus of the scene, showing them from behind in their intent to carry out decisive actions.
An essential sound system and functional slow motion are then inserted in the most suitable moments, between merciless eyes and fearful looks that wisely describe the frictions of a family, united by blood but separated in principles.
A mother as the only resource, a common point useful to calm three men overwhelmed by events, which ends up giving effective current parallels in a film full of potential socio-political reflections, not negligible. Difficult to change one’s destiny, when the future is written in blood. Wrong choices lead to catastrophic consequences and it is exactly the same domino effect that is asked of the viewer with this one Athena.
The constant empathic escalation it will lead to a moving ending, responsible for a profound and intense search for concrete development that comes to sneak into the mind of the beholder, despite being far from those realities.
Anger and emotional upheavals in an irremediable context, outline a portion of life that is told to us starting from a strong trauma, in which we try (not always succeeding), to protect human relationships as well as civil ones. The revolt that strikes Athena becomes at a certain point unmanageable and guilty on the one hand the melodies and on the other the directorial choices, this real fortress inaccessible but under siege, recalls assonances of the common imagination.
The Lord of the Rings in the first place it is certainly an element instinctively referable to when we see the prelude to the armed confrontation, while in parallel the visual association to Caesar de The Planet of the Apes observing Karim and the leader dynamics that gravitate around him.
Finally, surprising in its conclusion, which raises the narrative context even more bringing succulent reflections to mature, this new work by Gavras can undoubtedly be pointed out as one of the most interesting products coming from the new edition of the Venice Film Festival.
Determined, ferocious, violent but at the same time extremely delicate, he knows how to talk to us about current affairs in an unusual way, staging a war on several fronts which, however, proceeds in one direction only.
Filled with love, protection and fraternal spirit, it suggests to us that sometimes prejudices and appearances are not the elements to be trusted, even more so in today’s world made up of false hopes, hidden behind a bark of shameless dissent.