The artiest entry in the ever growing torture-movie genre, this playfully wicked French thriller from twentysomething provocateur Gela Babluani blasts its way into your brainpan with the help of black-and-white widescreen cinematography whose striking but smooth textures better suit the upwardly mobile auteur than his poor protagonist. Patching roofs in rural France to support his impoverished Georgian immigrant clan, Sébastian (the filmmaker’s boyishly handsome little brother Georges) gets screwed out of a paycheck, then impulsively assumes another man’s identity in pursuit of untold opportunity from a train ticket and mysterious instructions that the wind literally blows his way. Narrative contrivance abounds well past the point when the kid learns that Fate has tapped him to play a most dangerous game, though Babluani’s own sport-shooting advances one’s heart rate enough to push logic aside. As a brutal metaphor for the global economy, 13 Tzameti takes care of business; its assertion that desperate means require desperate measures naturally extends to the hair-trigger world of genre filmmaking, wherein young Babluani did what he had to do.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 18, 2006