This is a short, sharp, dark, nasty little movie by first-time Georgian director Gela Babluani. So accomplished is the photography that Babluani won the award for breakthrough director at Venice, where the film premiered in September 2005. However, 13 is not as wholly satifying as much of the laudatory critique would have you believe.
The first half hour features young first-generation Georgian immigrant Sebastian who gets, literally, stiffed when his employer dies before he has been paid. Taking a chance, Sebastian picks up a pre-paid train ticket and heads to Paris to await further instructions. So far, so visually interesting, so practically boring. The next half hour sees Sebastian figure out the gig in the countryside. I cannot say much for fear of ruining the suspense. Suffice to say that there were genuine jumps, sharp intakes of breath, and several members of the audience left in disgust. This stuff is intense, and makes a more stark case for nihilism than Woody Allen did in Match Point. The final half hour of the movie sees the story unwind, again shot beautifully, again rather boring. Overall, 13 is rather an uneven film, but the middle segment is so visceral it is worth the price of admission alone. Just don't expect this movie to change your life.
13(TZAMETI) is currently on extremely limited release in the UK and opens in France on the 1st February 2006. There is no scheduled release date for the US, Germany or Austria. For an alternative review, check out Nik's blog. But be warned that it CONTAINS PLOT SPOILERS.