Yvan De Wiel, a private banker from Geneva, goes to Argentina in the midst of a dictatorship to replace his partner, the object of the most worrying rumours, who disappeared overnight.

Andreas Fontana’s ‘Azor’ is a dense, dialogue heavy conspiracy thriller that plays out as a slow burn before gradually tightening his grip on its central character, and by extension the audience. It takes place in Argentina in 1980 during a period of dictatorship, and centres on Yvan (Fabrizio Rongione), a Swiss banker who heads to the country to look after his business interests after his partner disappears. As he meets various individuals his company is in business with, he starts to learn more about the political climate and the circumstances that may have led to Keys (his business partner) vanishing.

The title ‘Azor’ refers to a codeword used to mean ‘Be Silent’, and this anchors the film well as Yvan enters a dangerous environment where his constant alertness and candour is vital for his own safety. For a tense thriller there are no traditional set pieces, with most of the movie centering on tense conversations with menace bubbling under the surface. Subtext is everything as the men Yvan meets talk pleasantly whilst giving off the clear instruction not to ask too many questions. As Yvan, Fabrizio Rongione anchors the film well. He gives off an air of cool, but concerned professionalism, and he never lets his guard down or gives his true feelings away easily, keeping the audience as well as those he encounters in the dark to a certain extent.

Azor’ is a hard film to get a true read on as a lot of its secrets are left up to the audience to decipher. It’s not a thriller in the conventional sense, but it is enlightening and delves into a time of darkness, exploring the way people react to protect themselves and their own interests even as society deteriorates around them. It is a film that has stuck with me since watching it, and I suspect my views would perhaps grow on a rewatch, but on a first viewing I found it intriguing, tense, but also wilfully opaque and distant and that has coloured my overall views on it.

Rating: 3/5

Directed By: Andreas Fontana

Starring: Fabrizio Rongione, Stephanie Cléau, Elli Medeiros, Alexandre Trocki, Gilles Privat, Juan Pablo Geretto, Carmen Iriondo, Yvain Juillard, Pablo Torre Nilson and Juan Trench

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