“Athena” is a Netflix Original directed by Romain Gavras. Tells about the riots that broke out after a 13-year-old boy named Idris was killed, allegedly killed by the police. The death of the innocent minority boy moved the Athenian masses to start riots against the police.
Led by Karim (Sami Slimane), Idris’ older brother, the Athenian youths show anarchism in their environment, demanding justice. Meanwhile, Abdel (Dali Benssalah), is the second brother of Idris and Karim, who work as police officers, and are trying to defuse anarchism in their place of residence. Mokhtar (Ouassini Embarek) becomes the eldest brother who is busy rescuing his dark business in the midst of chaos.
“Athena” could be one of the underrated Netflix Originals and deserves more attention this period. In the midst of the popularity of drama and horror films on this streaming platform, it could be that “Athena” has missed our radar. Though this film presents the latest script and cinematic experience. Especially for film fans with the theme of social issues and exploration of anarchism with a more artistic packaging.
The Tragedy That Triggered Anarchism in the Minority of Athens
The essence of the scenario in “Athens” is the outbreak of riots as a manifestation of the anger of residents in minority settlements because a child was killed. Athens is home to minorities of various races and religions. Led by the victim’s brother, Karim, the youths from the neighborhood started a rebellion that cornered the police and local residents. The situation quickly turned into a police scenario against anarchist mobs from Athens.
“Athens” has a presentation like an opera of mob riots against the police. Seeing a group of uncontrollable youths throwing bottles with fire, up at a uniformed police unit in a special formation that tried to paralyze the crowd. Although it looks colossal and involves many actors and extras, “Athena” has a focused perspective on key characters.
Where we will follow the point of view of three brothers, with different positions and motivations when the riots broke out. There are those who want revenge, but there are those who believe that the tragedy could have ended more conducive. The plot presented is also chronological, and easy to follow from beginning to end. Because the focus is only on one riot incident which is located in a nearby location.
10 Minutes One Enchanting Long Shot as Opening Scene
Mathias Bouchard as the director of cinematography deserves great appreciation for “Athens”. The cinematography of this film is dominated by many long shots. Starting from the opening scene for approximately 10 minutes, the announcement of the death of a 13-year-old boy at the police headquarters by Abdel, then turned into the beginning of a riot when Karim threw a glass bottle with oil and fire. We seem to be sucked into the universe of “Athens” through its captivating and immersive prologue.
After the prologue scene, the continuation of the film is also dominated by many scenes with a long one-take duration from various perspectives. Sometimes we see from Karim’s perspective who is moving the anarchist masses. There is also a time when we see Abdel, a brother by the profession of a police officer who tries to control his younger brother. There is their eldest brother in the scenario, which unfortunately doesn’t have a very clear continuity with the main conflict. Because he seemed busy himself with his drug business. His presence looks so redundant.
The visual concept of one long shot from the perspective of several key characters managed to provide an evocative cinematic experience. The ups and downs of tension intensity and calm moments are quite balanced. There are times when we are in the middle of a boisterous shootout. There are times when the scene turns a little quiet, even though it is still covered with suspension. It should be applicable to characters who have a more significant role in one major event in the story.
Ambitious Cinematographic Vision But Less than Maximum Essence
“Athena” has a simple script concept, but a very ambitious production execution. Mainly because of the one-long-shot technique that dominates the cinematography. Making a film that actually has a simple script looks more high-quality. The acting performance of each main actor is also very one point. Each main character is able to display emotions, anger, and sadness that gives rise to a tinge of melancholy.
“Athens” manages to provide an overview of tragedy in anarchism. Sentimental and emotional in events dominated by heartless violence.
Unfortunately, this film is too focused on realizing the cinematic and technical one take visual ambitions. Visually “Athens” has a near-perfect presentation. However, the essence of the story and the scene is still not getting to the point. As already mentioned, there are some perspectives that are less relevant to the main conflict. And for a film with a simple time and event setting, there are still some parts that raise questions for the audience.
Overall, “Athena” still deserves the award as the best film on Netflix in this period. Films like this deserve to be watched on the big screen, at least the television screen.