Review: Thriller 'Azor' craftily threads the needle of high finance in 1980 Argentina

The Times is committed to reviewing theatrical film releases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because moviegoing carries risks during this time, we remind readers to follow health and safety guidelines as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials.

A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a junta, Swiss filmmaker Andreas Fontana’s ominously stirred thriller “Azor” drops us in Argentina circa 1980 when the country was in the grip of a military-led terror campaign. But our locales are places of secluded luxury, where fear of disappearance applied to assets more than people and rumors of bad things in other places still won’t disrupt cocktail soirees, pool time or racing thoroughbreds.

For a one percent unsure of their footing in a turbulent new world that might target them next, the personal attention of wealth managers becomes an essential security. When third-generation Swiss banker Yvan (Fabrizio Rongione) and his refined wife Ines (Stéphanie Cléau) travel from Geneva to Buenos Aires, it’s to ensure the continued business of a legacy outfit’s well-heeled but increasingly nervous clients. But also hovering over Yvan’s tour of estates, back rooms and VIP lounges is a question not as easily answerable in the ledgers of a portfolio or the financial pages — what happened to Yvan’s partner Keys, who was handling these accounts, and who’s gone missing?

Keys is a touchy subject that preoccupies Yvan as he and Ines make their rounds, but with each visit, the portrait of Yvan’s vanished colleague adds to the feeling that something was amiss in his dealings. One affluent client admits to feeling a close bond with Keys, but the wife believed him to be a “despicable manipulator.” Was he brilliant but careless? Hiding something? On to something?

In one sense, the architecture of Fontana’s and co-writer Mariano Llinas’ finely crafted screenplay is a classic puzzle, with a possible victim, a milieu of violence, cryptic clues and a crafty protagonist meeting characters who might be holding something back about the missing man. In this respect, it’s tempting to think of Keys — clearly a cunning individual who nurtured the intimacies his job afforded — as an absence/presence in the mold of Harry Lime in the noir classic “The Third Man.”

Except there is no Orson Welles to answer a question of intent and circumstance with a towering personality, nor is there a Joseph Cotten to delineate good and bad in starkly moral terms. And that’s how Fontana wants his mood-conscious scenario to simmer: with no discernible increase in tension, only the magnetically watchful, diplomatic performance of Rongione to guide us as Yvan comes to terms with who his business partner was, the temperature of a dangerous time and the best course of action.

That makes for a queasy form of moral suspense, especially when cool, calculating Ines — exquisitely played by Cléau — is there to keep her husband focused with the cutting assessment, “Fear makes you mediocre.” The movie exists, after all, in a rarefied world where our main character, in one scene, primes the patronage of the junta’s more well-to-do supporters. And there are none more unnerving than a steely-eyed monsignor (a great Pablo Torre Nilson) who speaks of buying and selling stocks with the same matter-of-factness as when he refers to parasites who need to be eradicated, “even in the best of families.”

To the less patient viewer, the lack of clarity on the finer points of high finance and characters’ backgrounds and not getting period-orienting news updates about the political situation, might seem confounding. But “Azor” works without them, because those details would only disrupt the artfully portentous chill Fontana gets from the pitch-perfect performances and design, and Gabriel Sandru’s cinematography — reminiscent of the great ‘70s cinematographer Gordon Willis’ work — which uses crisp, straightforward compositions to render certain spaces of privilege and power as eternally, blithely stagnant. These are Yvan’s people, however, and as this damning portrait of private banking reveals, he’s ready to navigate them as enterprisingly in the worst of times as he would in the best of times.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


China property shares stumble on tax worry, signs of weakness

© Reuters/Tyrone Siu China Evergrande Centre is seen in Hong Kong By Clare Jim and Samuel Shen HONG KONG/SHANGHAI (Reuters) -Chinese property shares fell on Monday, as Beijing pushed ahead ... Read more »

Three new Ebola cases confirmed in eastern Congo

BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – Three new Ebola cases have been confirmed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, bringing the total to five in the last 10 days, ... Read more »

Policeman due in court for ‘dragging wife behind car with her fingers trapped in window'

© Provided by Times Live According to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), on August 27  the victim, 34, was at home in Thabong township in Free State when her ... Read more »

Landslides and flooding kill at least 25 in southwest India

Landslides and flooding kill at least 25 in southwest India – STRINGER/REUTERS At least 25 people have died in landslides and floods triggered by heavy rains in southwestern India, officials ... Read more »

Portland police investigating several cases of vandalism to downtown businesses

Oct. 18—Portland police on Sunday confirmed they are investigating a string of vandalism and potential burglaries affecting businesses in downtown Portland as well as the Old Port district. At least ... Read more »

Couple who died of Covid leaving behind four children had regretted not getting vaccine

© Getty Images Seventy per cent of Americans ages 12 and above have now received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to Centers for Disease Control – ... Read more »

Sir David Amess: Westminster to pay tribute to murdered MP with speeches, minute's silence and church service

MPs will return to the House of Commons today after a three-week recess for party conferences, as politicians gather to pay tributes to Sir David Amess who was fatally stabbed ... Read more »

Dominic Raab: Police ‘adapting' to those radicalised online during Covid lockdowns

© PA Wire Conservative Party Conference British intelligence agencies and police are having to “adapt and respond” to a wave of vulnerable people who may have become radicalised online during ... Read more »

Hackers demand Lorraine Keane pay ransom to release control of social media

© Provided by Lorraine Keane has revealed that she has been targeted by hackers who wiped her social media accounts clean — even deleting one. The TV star is ... Read more »

Tommy Fury told he should take up dancing if he can't beat Jake Paul

Tommy Fury has been urged by his uncle Peter to take up dancing if he loses to Jake Paul. The 22-year-old is closing in on a huge opportunity against the ... Read more »

€140m road upgrade marks end of a ‘nightmare' stretch where 30 people were killed

A €140 million road upgrade will today mark the end of a “nightmare” stretch on which 30 people were killed. The replacement of the old Dublin-Sligo N4, once dubbed one ... Read more »

China's economy slows as power shortages and bottlenecks hit output

© Koji Sasahara An electric stock board in Tokyo. Asian shares were mostly lower on Monday after China reported that its economy grew by a meagre 4.9% annually in the ... Read more »

Squid Game fan recreates Red Light, Green Light in Overwatch

© Provided by Dot Esports After the Netflix series Squid Game launched to explosive stardom, gamers have been getting creative by recreating some of the challenges from the series within ... Read more »

Ronaldo and Singapore billionaire team up to set up digital football platform

© PAUL ELLIS Cristiano Ronaldo has peppered his social media with posts tagged #WritingTheFutureOfFootball and links to ZujuGP’s website. AFP ZujuGP is a coming digital community built around football, helmed ... Read more »

Apple's iPhone Partner Foxconn Unveils First Electric Vehicles

(Bloomberg) — Foxconn Technology Group unveiled its first electric vehicles, a milestone that could boost the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer’s credentials as a serious bidder for Apple Inc.’s secretive automotive project. ... Read more »

Apex Legends fans make free coloring book with Apex writer Tom Casiello as guest

© Provided by Dot Esports Creatives from within the Apex Legends community delivered one of the more unique creations inspired by the battle royale, a free coloring book full of ... Read more »

Neena Gupta was molested as a child: "Didn't dare tell my mother because I was scared that she would say that it was my fault"

© Provided by Desimartini Neena Gupta is not just an actress par excellence, but she is also a strong woman who has carried herself with utmost dignity however the tides ... Read more »

Singapore exports up 12.3% to $15.7b in September

© Provided by Singapore Business Review The non-oil domestic exports (NODX) saw a year-on-year increase of 12.3% in the month of September 2021, Enterprise Singapore said in a media release. ... Read more »

Hut Group promises changes after share price crash

© Getty Images Hut Group owns the beauty website Lookfantasic Fast-growing health and beauty firm The Hut Group (THG) has confirmed plans to overhaul its corporate governance after its share ... Read more »

Contactless card limit rises to £100 - how to avoid being scammed

This most recent change came into effect on October 15, 2021 and is the fifth time the card payment threshold has been raised since 2017. The last limit was £45 ... Read more »

ED issues fresh summons to Shiv Sena MP Gawali for questioning on Oct 20

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued fresh summons to Shiv Sena MP Bhavana Gawali to appear before it on October 20 for questioning in a money laundering case registered against ... Read more »

Gujarat: Fire in Surat packaging unit; 2 dead, many injured among 145 rescued

Two workers died after a massive fire broke out in a five-storey packaging unit in Gujarat’s Surat district early Monday morning, officials said. Around 145 others were rescued from the ... Read more »

FF Plus, EFF in Lekwa to capitalise on ANC's empty promises

© Provided by SowetanLive Smaller opposition parties in Standerton are hoping to capitalise on the ANC’s failures that led to the collapse of the Lekwa local municipality to win votes ... Read more »

Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Health and G42 Healthcare agree to boost collaboration

© CHRISTOPHE VISEUX The partnership will enable both entities to collaborate on various clinical and screening programmes and scientific projects. Mubadala Health, the healthcare unit of Abu Dhabi’s sovereign investment ... Read more »

High cholesterol WARNING - The four biggest risk factors for high cholesterol

Maintaining general good health is all about knowing the risk factors for the biggest killers, including stroke, cancers, diabetes and heart diseases. All of these conditions can be deadly and ... Read more »

Pasangan kekasih pembawa talasemia menangis terpaksa putus, enggan risikokan zuriat warisi penyakit

TALASEMIA adalah penyakit berkaitan darah yang diwarisi secara genetik disebabkan oleh mutasi pada gen. Ciri abnormal pada gen menyebabkan hemoglobin dalam sel darah merah menjadi tidak normal. Ia secara tidak ... Read more »

AirAsia X to hold crucial creditors meeting to vote on debt restructuring plan on Nov 12

© Provided by The Edge KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 18): In a crucial step to determine its future, AirAsia X Bhd (AAX), the low-cost long-haul affiliate of AirAsia Group Bhd, will ... Read more »

Virkkunen & Co designs sculptural substation and pylons in Finland

Finnish practice Virkkunen & Co has completed a sculptural series of electricity infrastructure in Imatra, Finland, which has been shortlisted in the business building category of Dezeen Awards 2021. © ... Read more »

World's oldest map of the stars and gold Bronze Age sun pendant to shine at British Museum

The world’s oldest map of the stars and a sun pendant, discovered by a detectorist and described as the most significant piece of Bronze Age gold ever found in Britain, ... Read more »

Inheritance tax attack on YOUR pension - Sunak Budget threat to strip nation's wealth

Many families now use pensions as a tax-efficient way to pass on wealth to loved ones free of inheritance tax (IHT). If you die before age 75, your beneficiaries may ... Read more »

York leads the way in 'ground-breaking trial' to prevent loneliness

A simple form of talking therapy, delivered by trained support workers over the telephone, reduced loneliness in older people left isolated during the pandemic, the initial results of a new ... Read more »

The best waterproof trousers reviewed for 2021

Just so you know, while we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this page, we never allow this to influence product selections © Credits: Getty ... Read more »

Man who kept breaking in to his old house is shot dead by new homeowners

A 28-year-old man was shot dead in a house in Sacramento, California, after he trespassed on to a private property he believed belonged to his father. © Screengrab/CBS Local Gabor ... Read more »

Eight years behind bars for man who stabbed a woman at a Launceston juice bar

© Provided by ABC NEWS The Launceston juice bar where the “grave crime” occurred. () A Supreme Court Judge described an attack on a young woman as violent and terrifying, ... Read more »

Aust ship in Cambodia to mark peace accord

Australia has been asked to provide extra funding for the Khmer Rouge tribunal as HMAS Anzac sailed into Cambodia’s port of Sihanoukville as part of commemorations for the 30th anniversary ... Read more »

Chemical giant Ineos pumps nearly £1.7bn in green hydrogen production

© Provided by City AM In what will be Europe’s largest ever investment in electrolysis projects to make green hydrogen with the potential to “transform” zero carbon hydrogen production, chemical ... Read more »

Marketmind: What could possibly go wrong?

A look at the day ahead from Julien Ponthus. © Reuters/Andrew Kelly FILE PHOTO: Global indices are displayed on a screen on the trading floor at the New York Stock ... Read more »

World Menopause Day: Lorraine Kelly on redefining menopause and why keeping the conversation going is so important

© Provided by The Independent Lorraine Kelly (Jonathan Brady/PA) – Lorraine Kelly is recalling a holiday in Spain with her husband around a decade ago, when she really wasn’t feeling ... Read more »

Sheffield woman admits endometriosis has 'devastated' her young life

There are calls for more funding and research into endometriosis, as a petition with over 100,000 signatures is set to be debated in Parliament later today. © Credits: Alamy Alamy ... Read more »

Drunk man transported to the hospital after electric scooter accident in Bergen

A man in his 20s has been transported to Haukeland University Hospital by ambulance after an electric scooter accident in Bontelabo in the harbor area in Bergen on Monday night. ... Read more »