written by Nobuhiro Hosoki
The son of a Georgian filmmaker, Gela Babluani has made an impressive splash into the film industry by making a movie on a microscopic budget, pantomiming a skill he learned from his father, Temur. In this film, Sebastien(played by the director's brother George Babluani) is a laid back, innocent immigrant who scrapes by and supports his family while making a living as a roofer. While repairing a roof for Gordon(Philippe Passion), a drug-addicted customer, Sebastien eavesdrops through the ceiling onto a conversation about an illegal job that might bring him tremendous rewards. It seems that his employer is plotting one last score, and in a twist of fate comes into possession of a letter that was address to Gordon, a morphine addict, who died in an overdose.
The letter leads Sebastien into a get-rich-quick scheme in a French country chateau, where he plays a game of high-stakes Russian roulette. All of a sudden, this slowly paced and low-key film turns on a dime. Sebastien soon learns that he was inadvertently entered into a desperate game where 13 contestants gather in a circle in a dimly lit house and press the barrel of a gun to the head of the guy in front of them. Outside the circle, a bunch of pretentious rich gambler bet on the outcome, with plenty of shouting and cursing as they dream of amassing a handsome pile of cash. It all starts with one bullet being fired in succession and the bodies start toppling onto the ground. We sense their tension as we see the sweat running down their faces, keeping us on the edge of our seats.
George Babluani has made a great transition by playing a sweet-faced kid who becomes a conniving and money-grabbing nihilist. Throughout the film, dialogue is kept in minimum, not even preaching. Director Gela Babluani demonstrates his ability to create unflinching tension with stark photography that evokes genuine terror and takes us into a dark depth of the human mind. Another notable performance is provided in the character of Jacky (Aurelien Recoing), who was in a film called Time Out; his presence lifts the scene to a high pitch of harrowing experience.
This film was shown at the Sundance and Venice film festivals. Tzameti means 13 in Georgian language. It's an unlucky number to many, and it's a misfortune to the protagonist of this film, but the director's talent overcomes any bad luck.
Produced and directed by Gela Babluani
Director of photography, Tariel Meliava
Edited by Noémie Moreau
Music by East (Troublemakers)
Production designer, Bernard Peault
Released by Palm Pictures.
Running time: 90 minutes.
This film is not rated.
Cast: Georges Babluani (Sebastien)
Aurélien Recoing (Jacky)
Pascal Bongard (Master of Ceremonies)
Fred Ulysse (Alain)
Philippe Passon (Jean-François)
Nicolas Pignon (Romain)
,and Vania Vilers (Mr. Schloendorf).