Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf.
Starring: Misha Gomiashvili. France/Georgia/Germany/UK 2014. 119 mins. Georgian with English subtitles.
Opening the Venice Film Festival 2014 with its world premiere alongside Birdman, The President is the latest film from director Mohsen Makhmalbaf (The Gardener)
Misha Gomiashvili plays an aging dictator, simply known as the President, who oversees a brutal regime. When the people begin an uprising, the President’s spoilt wife and daughters depart. His grandson (Dachi Orvelashvili) refuses to leave, and they both stay in the country. As the oppressed people of the nation raise the bounty on the President’s head, this mischievous pair must disguise themselves to blend in with the country’s citizens.
We can all say we have seen the crumbling of at least one dictatorship during our lifetime, but only through the viewpoint of those who have witnessed the oppression or acts of brutality that have led to a revolution. Gomiashvilli instead allows us to see this collapse through the eyes of the dictator himself, giving us the option to almost feel for someone who has lost all touch with reality and awareness of human compassion.
The President is a striking and bold film which speaks on many levels, especially as we are living in a world where the media focuses heavily on the inhumane actions of autocratic leaders and documents the devastation to the lives of those in oppressed countries. Darkly comical at times, the film makes important points about the impact of tyranny on a society. This political thriller is wonderfully challenging and most definitely a must-see.
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