13 (Tzameti)

"Very Good"

13 (Tzameti) Review


It's probably going on right now, and no one knows about it. A bunch of guys hanging around with pistols, with one bullet in each, pointing their guns at one another, waiting patiently for a bell to ring so they can either get rich or die trying. A few old rich men, no doubt career gamblers, standing around watching the spectacle with equal parts glee and impatience, their money squeezed in their sweaty palms. Talk about the hardest way to make an easy living; Géla Babluani's 13 (Tzameti) might end up being the thinking-man's answer to Eli Roth's dispassionate gore-o-rama Hostel and the most artsy spin on The Most Dangerous Game ever plunked down on the screen.In France, Sébastien (George Babluani, the director's brother) works all day doing handyman work for people, including roof-patch work. His family is shoved into an place that wouldn't pass for a one bedroom apartment in Hell's Kitchen. His father is sick, and Sébastien is becoming the sole bread-winner of the family. Things seem down, until he sees a small invitation for a sporting event while working for his current employer (Phillipe Passon). When the employer dies suddenly, Sébastien takes the chance and steals the invitation. It turns out the invitation is to a game where you are placed in a room with 12 other men, given a gun with one bullet, told to aim it at the man in front of it (they are in a circle), and told to pull the trigger when the bell sounds. Sébastien freaks out, but finally realizes that there is no hope but to rely on luck to get him out of this sadistic gambling pit, filled with bargaining aristocrats with cigars that would pass for blimps in most countries.Babluani, from South Georgia, shot this tight, terrific exercise in grainy black-and-white and with a construction that suggests a Mellville influence. Unlike other films that deal with life as a game of luck and chance, 13 (Tzameti) seems fixed on the construction of the game, the idea of the sport as an organized, well-maintained machine. Just as much, if not more, time is given to the men betting and the men running the game as the men playing it. In fact, the camera doesn't give any other player besides Sébastien any time at all aside from his inevitable nemesis (Aurélien Recoing, sneering with icy-vein intensity). The horror of the film (it's not explicit) is all in the tension that Babluani builds with masterful restraint. Seats will be squirmed in as Babluani and gifted cinematographer Tariel Meliava circle the players, closing up on the guns aimed right at the base of each man's temple. It's all beading foreheads and clammy hands from the middle of the film on.Furthermore, Babluani's style and ending suggest a slight nod to Godard's My Life to Live, although it's not nearly as powerful and bewildering as that film. It plays with New Wave spunkiness that has become rare in these dog days of summer and, let's just say it, the whole year. Although the convolution is easy to notice, it's also easy to notice a born talent like Babluani. With epic catastrophes like Lady in the Water floating around, it should be easy to decide who to place your bets on.Never stick anything sharper than your elbow in your ear.


13 (Tzameti)

Facts and Figures

Run time: 93 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 8th February 2006

Box Office Worldwide: $767.3 thousand

Distributed by: Palm Pictures

Production compaines: Weltecho, Solimane Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Fresh: 56 Rotten: 11

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Géla Babluani

Producer: Géla Babluani, Fanny Saadi, Jean-Baptiste Legrand

Starring: George Babluani as Sebastien, Aurélien Recoing as Jacky, as Le maître de cérémonie, Fred Ulysse as Alain, Nicolas Pignon as Romain, Vania Vilers as M. Schloendorf, Christophe Vandevelde as Ludo, Olga Legrand as Christine Godon, Augustin Legrand as José, Philippe Passon as Jean-François Godon, Didier Ferrari as Inspecteur, Serge Chambon as Organisateur, as Pierre Bléreau

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