Azor – Berlinale Panorama Review
Swiss private banker Yvan De Wiel travels with his wife Inés to Buenos Aires in the midst of the military dictatorship. He is searching for his partner René Keys who was in charge of maintaining relations with wealthy Argentinean clients and has mysteriously disappeared. De Wiel encounters a decadent society of landowners, the newly rich, heiresses, aristocrats, army officials, fixers and prelates, all complicit with the regime but concerned with taking advantage of the hypocritical collusion between the Swiss banking system and diplomacy to hide their capital abroad.
As he moves from exclusive receptions to private circles and luxury hotels while soldiers arrest bystanders in the streets, the discreet De Wiel must learn to interpret and speak the allusive language of a greater, darker power in order to take on his predecessor’s increasingly unclear role. But as we shift from Roberto Bolaño to Joseph Conrad, exiting the maze will lead the protagonist to the mystery’s heart of darkness.
The film by Andreas Fontana, revisits another side of the Argentinian dictatorship, that we haven’t seen that much in films during that period. As the film starts, we, through the eyes of the Swiss banker and his wife, confess an unreasonable arrest of two younglings by the army, that is “clearing the streets out” according to the driver and the clients of the banker. Usually a film could focus on the youth resisting the dictatorship but not this one. Azor explores the situation from the eyes of the Swiss banker and the ruling class of Argentina. De Will’s clients seem totally out of touch of the reality that their country is facing and preoccupied by their personal problems. Even if those problems often arise from the political situation, this is unclear at the eyes of our banker protagonist.
The banker, portrayed by Dardenne brothers regular Fabrizio Rongione, tries to find out what happened to his colleague and to make as many deals as possible, having happy clients and personal success and ultimately surpassing his pretty popular predecessor. The viewpoint of the film is interesting and it’s characters realistic. The main problem with it, is its screenplay that is rather flat and would have probably been far more interesting if it was following Keys instead of De Wiel, since the whole mystery of what happened to this mystery colleague is in the end hurting the film instead of providing a valuable subplot.
Written and directed by Andreas Fontana
with Fabrizio Rongione, Stéphanie Cléau, Carmen Iriondo, Juan Trench, Ignacio Vila
Country: Switzerland / France / Argentina