‘Azor,’ directed by first-time feature film director Andreas Fontana is set in Argentina during the military dictatorship by a junta in the 80s. The film sets its own pace to explore the 80s Argentina, particularly how the market functioned during the military regime. Unlike the stereotypical representation of dictatorship in films, Fontana shows us how well an authoritarian society can camouflage itself to seem completely normal to the world outside. The eeriness comes from what is not shown but discussed. Azor makes you wonder about your moral standing in an oppressed nation.
‘Azor’ is about the time Yvan, a private banker from Geneva, visits Argentina with his wife, Ine’s, to replace his work-partner, Rene’ Keys. The mysterious disappearance of Keys brought the private banker for the first time to Argentina. With every client, Yvan meets he learns more about his partner. While some described him as brilliant and charming, the others said he was a “despicable manipulator.”
Keys is a visually absent character but is crucial in how the story unfolds. Yvan tries to complete all the incomplete tasks left by Rene and also assures his clientele that the disappearance of his partner would not affect the relationship between the Swiss bank and them. The clientele consisted of wealthy men who were desperate to keep their money from being seized by the military.
It was only in the very beginning of the film that a sign of military violence was indicated. The militants searched two young men; Yvan’s driver remarked that they were searching for a particular man, and it was not a situation to worry about. After reaching the hotel, Yvan discussed the delay with the concierge, who said that it is important to understand how awful the country’s situation was, which is why “the country needs major reform.” This exchange further helps in recognizing the overall feeling of satisfaction and well-being of the commoners or at least the pretense of it.
Throughout its runtime with keywords and personal accounts, Azor helps Yvan understand Keys. The various benefits, at times probably even illegal ones, provided by Keys made him a daring personality among the clientele, something that Yvan hoped to change. When he met with the family of one of his clients, they discussed the thousands who went missing, including his daughter. The revolutionaries were captured, and no one knew what happened to them. The father grieved the loss of his daughter, and hoped to keep some money aside for her in case she returned. The feeling towards the authoritarian state was divided, as can be expected. Some felt it turned the country into a private hunting ground, whereas the others believed it was a necessary purification.
Ine’s, wife of Yvan, perfectly depicted by Stephanie Cleau, accompanies Yvan to his meetings. She embodies the privilege of being a wife of a private banker with a lineage. Even amidst the state of terror, Ines took a swim every morning, unaffected by the condition around. Mostly seen smoking cigarettes, Ine’s learned about the clients from their wives and shared the necessary information with Yvan. She knew that there was no point in holding prejudice towards the authority. She reminded Yvan that accomplishing the needful for business was necessary regardless of how it made him feel morally. While Keys was unable to cater to his responsibilities, Yvan had a one-track mind where the growth of the business was primal.
Played by Fabrizio Rongione, Yvan always had an air of politeness and could fluently speak French, Spanish and English. Guided by his wife, Yvan planned his appearance according to what could make his client feel more confident. Even in a state of emergency, his affluent clients discussed the state of affairs at private clubs and farmhouses amidst acres of land that they owned. Yvan and Ines’s time spent in Argentina during the Dirty War showcases a particular privileged side of the nation. The violence and disappearance of the leftists directly only affected a few of them. Their desperation mainly was to safeguard the money and possessions. The discussion was accompanied by good gin and fresh meat among the diplomats. A strange calmness even when they knew that their leisurely days were numbered. The Swiss bank came to rescue this population and at the same time got a secret Government contract.
Azor questions or instead put forward the disregard of moral consciousness among the privileged class who could shake hands with militants if that brought profit to the business. What Keys was unable to complete, Yvan, with his swift sophistication, was able to achieve. ‘Azor’ is a brilliantly made political drama that takes time to explore the subjects and the space. A particular scene that really strikes for its subtlety is when Mrs. Lacrosteguy, a client of the Swiss bank, discusses her relationship with Rene Keys. While she spoke of how Rene used to reassure her in times of stress, visually, the film explored the garden and the house, creating a feeling of hollowness that the speaker suffered from. ‘Azor’ will make you ponder and question with its subtle and unhurried approach towards storytelling.
Azor is a 2021 Political Drama film written and directed by Andreas Fontana.