(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)
(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)
SW SCORE: 47
5 out of 5 🐙
A very thinly disguised adaptation (the movie starts with a statement that all resemblance to actual figures in real life is intentional) of a novel of the same name that tells the true story of the Lambrakis affair in Greece in 1963. The police chief in a city orders rightwing thugs to assassinate Grigoris Lambrakis, a popular leftwing politician. Despite massive incompetence, they manage to fatally club him. But a local prosecutor begins to ask questions and the conspiracy, which relied on the employment of careless and stupid thugs, begins to unravel. Once exposed, several people who could have testified dies in very convenient succession and the opposition government won elections in a landslide. Of course, the military overthrew that democratically elected government in a coup and then went about banning every single work of art and literature and philosophy that could possibly be interpreted as leaning leftist. They even banned new forms of mathematics. And finally, they even banned the letter ‘Z’ because it came to represent the assassinated politician.
Crazy true story source material aside: It is masterfully paced and revealed by director Costa-Gavras. The actors are pitch-perfect. The twists and the steady exposure of the assassination are peeled back like an extremely satisfying onion. Layered on top of this is a tone that resembles a very dark shade of Catch-22. It does not extend to that level of absurdity but, as the old saying goes, this particular truth is stranger than most fiction. it is even peppered with lunatic humor that shines a light on the blatant hypocrisy of the killers and their masters. It was the first foreign film to be nominated for Best Picture in 31 years.
Finally, and I know my rightwing readers will hate this but, heck, I hate them so we’re even. The behavior of the coordinators of the assassination included attacking the innocent people who reported the foul play by attacking their character. It also included asking sworn officials to modify written records. It also included the incredibly convenient disappearance of damning documents. I wonder where we’ve seen that all before recently? And I’ll give you shits a hint. It wasn’t just Watergate.
It’s an astounding film. History really is one of the finest storytellers ever.
(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.
(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)
(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so
(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)