Partisan (Blu-ray) (2015)

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Released 14-Oct-2015

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama/Thriller Interviews-Cast-Interview with Vincent Cassel (9:05)
Music Video-x 3
Interviews-Cast-Compound Interviews with the children
Short Film-x 2 by Ariel Kleiman
Teaser Trailer
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Madman Propaganda x 4
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 97:44
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ariel Kleiman

Madman Entertainment
Starring Vincent Cassel
Jeremy Chabriel
Florence Mezzara
Alex Balaganskiy
Anastasia Prystay

Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Daniel Lopatin

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

†††† In a war ravaged landscape of partly ruined city buildings, Gregori (Vincent Cassel) has withdrawn from society and set up a self-supporting commune consisting entirely of women who have been abused or abandoned and their children, of whom eleven year old Alexander (Jeremy Chabriel) is the eldest. Gregori is the only adult male; he sets and administers the rules but his paternalism is compassionate and intelligent, his hand gentle, offering others shelter from the outside world. This is an idyllic life and a harmonious extended family, with the women and children helping with the chores and upkeep, and Gregori obviously cares about the women, including Alexanderís mother Susanna (Florence Mezzara) who is currently carrying his child, and the other children although Alexander is a bit of a favourite.

†††† Gregori teaches the children to read and write, but he also teaches the older children something else altogether; how to shoot. Around 20 minutes into the film we find out why; Gregori has trained the children to be killers for hire and we see Alexander cold-bloodedly, dispassionately and efficiently murder a mechanic at his place of work then escape on a motor bike with Ariana (Anastasia Prystay), one of the other older children.

†††† But not everyone is content. Leo (Alex Balaganskiy) is a taciturn and troubled boy slightly younger than Alexander who disturbs the harmony of the commune because he questions, if not outright challenges, Gregoriís rules and decisions. Leo also reacts aggressively when one of the communeís chickens is killed for food which brings to a head his disobedience. Then, one night, Leo disappears which leads Alexander to also question Gregoriís authority and to begin to realise that Gregoriís version of the world, and his own place in it, may not be totally accurate.

†††† Partisan explains very little; we receive almost no information about Gregoriís background, only one unsettling story about Gregoriís mother and a bottle of perfume that is used to teach Alexander a moral about life. Indeed, the film can be very unsettling with its juxtaposition of idyllic commune life and cold blooded murder by children. For example, just after we have seen Alexander suddenly, and without warning or explanation, shoot a man dead, the film follows this with a long sequence of the women and children of the commune having dinner and singing karaoke together, with the microphone given to Alexander and Ariana as a reward for the killing they had just committed. The film is also full of scenes of Gregori playing with happy and laughing children, all the more disturbing and unsettling because we now know that Gregori has another, much darker, side.

†††† Partisan is pretty much a two hander and Vincent Cassel and Jeremy Chabriel are superb. Cassel is an experienced and acclaimed French actor with 91 credits listed in the IMDb including Public Enemy #1 (2008), for which he won a best actor Cesar, and the powerful La Haine. His Gregori is a complex man, jovial, intelligent, compassionate and caring, thoughtful when challenged and only once, in a scene where Alexander refuses to eat chicken meat, almost losing his cool and calm exterior. This is a brilliantly realised character, quietly menacing and mesmerising to watch on screen. However, he is matched by first time actor Jeremy Chabriel who is also understated and controlled, but showing with his expressions and eyes the uncertainty he is feeling as his world changes around him.

†††† Although set somewhere in the war ravaged Balkans (but filmed mainly in Georgia) with a French lead, Partisan was financed and partly shot in Australia with a Melbourne born director, Ariel Kleiman, making this an unusual film. More European arthouse than recognisably Australian, Partisan is a powerful, tense, well-scripted and beautifully acted drama about family, responsibility and growing up.

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Transfer Quality


†††† Partisan is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

†††† The detail of the film is impressive, with every line on Vincent Casselís face finely detailed. Colours have that digital glossiness, although the colour palate is muted; this is a winter landscape with browns and greys prominent - the dry grass, ravaged city apartment blocks, the interiors of the commune or the grey sky. Blacks are solid, shadow detail very good, skin tones natural, contrast and brightness consistent.

†††† Other than some slight ghosting against mottled surfaces I did not notice any marks or artefacts.

†††† English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


†††† The audio is a choice of English DTS-HD MA 5.1 or English LPCM 2.0 plus an English audio description track using a female voice (Dolby Digital 2.0). I listened to the HD audio.

†††† This is a film with a number of long silences and long takes, with no action as such, except for a few gunshots. Dialogue is centred, clear and easy to understand. The surrounds and rears were not overused, but they do provide weather effects, such as wind and distant thunder, voices during the commune meals and karaoke and the music, which was all the film required. The sub-woofer provided some depth to the music and added rumbles to add to the atmosphere and tension.

††††Lip synchronisation was fine.

††††The original score by Daniel Lopatin (responsible for Dead Europe (2012) and the recent TV series Gallipoli (2015) was synthesised based, atmospheric and effective.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Interview with Vincent Cassel (9:05)

†††† Cassel answers questions shown as a text on screen about what the film is about, his character, how he got involved, working with inexperienced child actors and the director. Minor.

Music Videos

†††† Full versions of the music videos that were used in the karaoke scenes in the film:

Compound Interviews

†††† Children from the film provide their responses to questions. Their answers are intriguing, amusing and very disturbing, all at once. The questions are:

Short Films by Ariel Kleiman

†††† Two short films by the director:

†††† Deeper Than Yesterday (19:52): the crew of a Russian submarine bicker and fight and may be losing their minds; but when they find the body of a beautiful young woman floating in the sea things might just be looking up. Russian dialogue with burnt in white subtitles.

†††† Young Love (6:47): a quirky tale about a young man bleeding from a wound to his side, a young woman with an axe who speaks no English and a herd of Alpacas.

Teaser (0:57)

Theatrical Trailer (1:54)

Madman Propaganda (9:37)

†††† Trailers for Snowtown, Tim Wintonís The Turning, Perfect Sense and Submarine.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† The Region A US Blu-ray of Partisan includes as extras the interview with Cassel we have and one with director / cowriter Ariel Kleiman but it misses out on all the other extras we get. The Kleiman interview would be interesting, but I think our more selection of extras, including the short films, win the day.


†††† Partisan is a character study rather than a thriller, a powerful, tense and well-scripted drama about family, responsibility and growing up with superb performances from Vincent Cassel and Jeremy Chabriel. This is a different type of Australian film that is well worth seeking out.

†††† The video and audio are very good. The extras are interesting and worthwhile.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, December 08, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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