Thursday, March 19, 2009

Movies: Z

Not to be confused with Zorro, Costa-Gavras' Z is the 1969 Euronoir political thriller in which Yves Montand plays a leftist intellectual activist murdered by a bop on the head from a club waving out the back of a careening three-wheeler. This is in Paris, the night of pacifist rally, and Montand's crew knows trouble is coming—but there's nothing they can do to stop it. The police are against them, and have secretly hired a group of right-wing thugs to spoil their meeting; the thugs trash their posters, start fights, kill Montand, and then do their best to hush up all the witnesses.

This corruption would go unpunished if not for the right-minded district attorney (too young to buy into the government's scheme, an in spite of threats) and the money-minded journalist (also young, but modeled after a paparazzo rather than a judicious student of the law). Working at first parallel and eventually together, they untangle the mystery and bring all the crooked cops and military officials to trial, though a disappointing end note tells that the bad guys went unpunished and the good guys eventually got screwed.

The (brilliant) plot is based on actual events—in Greece, in 1963. Which leads me to my only complaint: I left the theatre loathing the French, with never a thought to Greece at all—even though I knew from the beginning that the film was based on actual Greek events. Costa-Gavras is such a fantastic story-teller that I believed him fully, to the point of taking home the wrong message. I suppose he didn't have the liberty to make an actual expose, but I still regret that the French now bear the brunt of my anger. Then again, French district attorneys are likely much more stylish than Greek ones. . .

No comments: