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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, April 17, 2014 - Edition No 893 

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AX, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Bruno (Jose Garcia) is a hardworking and decent man in his 40s when he is retrenched from his job at a large paper manufacturer and spends two years looking for work without success. His wife, Marlene (Karin Viard) is supportive and wants to save the increasingly strained marriage. As he grows more desperate, Bruno is pushed to contemplate getting rid of the competition - by literally killing off the likely contenders for the job he wants.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The thrust of Costa-Gavras' The Ax is plain enough: the madness of a modern industrial world that too often makes experienced and valuable workers redundant for short term economic gain. Downsizing, outsourcing, restructuring ... anything but humanising.

Costa-Gavras is an accomplished filmmaker and he tells his story with pace and panache. There is much subversive humour, as Bruno (Jose Garcia in top form) goes about the job of assassin with a clunky, guilt-ridden determination fuelled by despair. It's a black comedy with plenty to say, much of it about the self serving righteousness of Bruno's bourgeois peers.

A symbolic poster pops up occasionally, an image of a hand holding a knife as if about to thrust down. Society is killing itself, and we can readily agree with the mood, articulated plainly by a fellow redundee talking to Bruno at a bar, "human nature should be our central focus". At other times, billboards featuring nude women whip past. Or a van with "Make your dreams come alive" plastered on its (black) side.

Of course all this moralising leaves us entangled in Bruno's murderous path - hence the bleak humour of it, to blunt the moral point. But there is a deeper point to this film, about our self view and self worth. In tackling this subject, Costa-Gavras opens up all the related topics for discussion. With much grit.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

AX, THE (M)
(Belgium/France/Spain, 2005)

Le Couperet

CAST: José Garcia, Karin Viard, Geordy Monfils, Christa Theret, Ulrich Tukur, Olivier Gourmet, Yvon Back

PRODUCER: Michèle Ray-Gavras

DIRECTOR: Costa-Gavras

SCRIPT: Costa-Gavras, Jean-Claude Grumberg (novel by Donald E. Westlake)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Patrick Blossier

EDITOR: Yannick Kergoat

MUSIC: Armand Amar

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Laurent Deroo

RUNNING TIME: 122 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Potential Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 1, 2006







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