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13 (Tzameti) Review

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Sebastian, a young man, has decided to follow instructions intended for someone else, without knowing where they will take him.

★★★★

The son of an acclaimed Georgian filmmaker, Géla Babluani makes an immediate and indelible impact with this chilling debut feature. It opens like a social drama, as 20 year-old George Babluani repairs roofs to feed his immigrant family. But the action becomes increasingly Hitchcockian, as the innocent assumes the personality of his deceased employer and finds himself travelling cross-country with various strangers on his tail. However, events suddenly shift from the teasing to the terrifying, as Babluani is trapped by pitiless gangsters into a murderous game of Russian roulette that proves as compelling as it’s macabre.

Fellow contestant Aurélien Recoing and referee Pascal Bongard steal the closing sequences, but it’s the efficient direction, Tariel Meliava’s noirish monochrome cinematography and the concept’s sheer audacity that mark this out as something genuinely extraordinary.

Astonishingly accomplished debut feature that combines Hitchcockian suspense with a showdown whose unflinching attitude to violence will pin you to the seat.