This claustrophobic drama is set in Argentina in the late 1970s, just after a military junta has taken over the country and the moneyed elite are trying to pretend that they are not scared to death. Private banker Yvan (Fabrizio Rongione) comes to Buenos Aires from Switzerland with his wife Ines (Stéphanie Cléau) following the disappearance of his partner Keys. He’s there to shore up accounts and find out what happened. What he finds as he visits with his clients in their mansions and on their thoroughbred estates is that Keys was both loved and despised and possibly reckless. And he had a secret client that Yvan was not privvy to.
What makes this film work is that everything seems very normal, yet you can feel the cracks slowly spreading just below the surface. The rich still have their parties, and luxuriate in their pools, and go riding on their beautiful horses, but talk of someone whose every possession was suddenly taken, or of a daughter who disappeared for being too outspoken creeps into their conversations. But the business of money is what they’re there for. And the party goes on.
Azor feels a lot like an old-fashioned spy thriller, with whiffs of Graham Greene’s “The Third Man” and shots that make you think of Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. It’s very languorous with the danger just out of frame. And Fabrizio Rongione is perfect as the cool banker who seems not to know what is happening, but is very good at pretending. It’s Swiss director Andreas Fontana’s debut and I look forward to what comes next from him. I highly recommend Azor to lovers of quietly suspenseful foreign flicks.
In French and Spanish with subtitles.
In NY theaters beginning Sept 10th. A national rollout will follow with streaming on MUBI later.