Athena is a French social-issue drama that is a ‘modern-day Greek tragedy’ that follows three brothers whose lives are thrown into chaos after the death of their little brother. The film is now streaming on Netflix.
The death of Idir, a 13-year-old boy, has caused quite the stir across France. The police are believed to be the culprits, and a group of rebels has started a civil war.
Karim (Sami Slimane) is leading the rebels, Abdel (Dali Benssalah) is an army soldier who wants a proper investigation, while Moktar (Ouassini Embarek) is a drug dealer only concerned about his business.
The rebels are desperate to expose Idir’s killers. Abdel wants to convince Karim that this isn’t the correct path but he doesn’t show any signs of stopping.
As additional details of Idir’s murder and the civil war come to light, the situation dramatically aggravates. The theme of loss is at the centre of the narrative.
While there isn’t much scope for character development or nuances in Athena, the actors are still responsible for coping with the extreme pace of the film.
Slimane and Benssalah are the stars of Athena. Their relationship forms the crux of the film as they are on opposite spectrums.
Karim is the more emotional brother. He is struggling to come to terms with Idir’s death while Abdel is the rational one.
Both hold their own and their scenes together are excellent. Embarek is decent as Moktar, but he doesn’t get the screen time that the other two do.
Right from the opening sequence, you understand that Athena is far from an ordinary film. The single-camera take leaves you in awe.
From Karim and Abdel’s introduction to the rebel group in the Athena Estate, it’s all a single shot as the camera follows the characters. It won’t be an exaggeration to say it’s one of the best opening sequences in films.
Not just that, the entire film is a collection of single takes. Scene after scene, the cinematography just captivates you and makes you appreciate the effort that went into filming. You can’t take your eyes off even for a second.
The three brother’s personalities are explored extremely well by director Romain Gavras despite the little wiggle room in the frantic pacing. The structure is solid as well, with no obvious weak points.
Athena cleverly points fingers at the far-right extremist groups and questions society’s willingness to hate without understanding the entire truth. Hidden with the action and gripping narrative is scathing social issue commentary that elevates the film.
While the pace of the film doesn’t allow much room for many details, some characters, such as Sebastian, definitely needed more background for the viewers to understand the context better, especially when he plays such a big part in the conclusion.
Athena is a masterfully crafted movie that will leave you in constant astonishment at the level of filmmaking. This one should make everyone’s binge list.
Director: Romain Gavras
Date Created: 2022-09-23 14:08