13 (Tzameti) review

Georgian Géla Babluani impresses in this taut, black-and-white thriller debut. Sébastien (Georges Babluani) is an impoverished builder, seeking money for his family. Increasingly desperate, he’s drawn to a clandestine betting ring, where businessmen gamble on the lives of human players in games of Russian Roulette.

Aided by the ominous score and grainy cinematography, Babluani conjures a nightmarish, masculine underworld. The lethal contests are chilling in their simplicity: an umpire screams out commands to the baying punters and panic-stricken contestants – whose bodies are shovelled away between rounds. Babluani has a keen eye for expressive male faces and no qualms about delivering a grim, fatalistic resolution.

See it before the inevitable, watered-down Hollywood remake.


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