ASSAULT, Deadpan Tragicomedy shocks less than it amuses

Kazakh director Adilkhan Yerzhanov and his producers seem to be in top form.

After his feature film Collective immunity, which premiered in December 2021 at the Tallinn Film Festival, the director’s latest film had its world premiere at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Yerzhanov is now a recognized brand on the international circuit of film and art house festivals.

In addition to building a reputation, it’s also building a sobering alternative to the film series presented as cinematic universes by major studios. Yerzhanov developed his own film series, with each story set in the fictional village of Karatas.

Aggression marks the latest installment in the ever-expanding Karatas universe, featuring possibly the most provocative and controversial subject matter from the satirical and whimsical director. The film begins and revolves around a group of masked men who take over a school in the middle of nowhere, most likely inspired by an attack on a school in Beslan.

The teachers, as well as most of the students, manage to flee by the emergency route; however, some children remain in the building at the mercy of abusers. Yerzhanov doesn’t leave much to wish fulfillment, showing unexpected murders in school hallways.

When the adults gather in a dilapidated police station to alert the authorities to the attack and hostage-taking, the response comes in Yerzhanov’s typical satirical riposte, to the effect that the Kazakh equivalent of the SWAT team will arrive in a few days due to weather. conditions.

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However, math teacher Taszhy made the unfortunate mistake of locking the students in the classroom before going to soothe his nerves with a cigarette just as the supposed terrorists broke in. In the sudden circumstances and fearing for his life, he does the most rational thing in his binary fight or flight response. Unfortunately, her son was left in the locked classroom.

After coming to his senses and calculating how many children could be killed until the team arrives, the unheroic Taszhy becomes the leader of a ragtag group of teachers and parents to storm the school. school and save the children. In order to properly orchestrate the attack, the group takes part in a series of training and tutorials on the snowy plains of Kazakhstan.

Yerzhanov is the master of narrative configuration in Aggression, as it introduces all of the members of the upcoming teacher-parent team in the film’s opening scenes, underpinning their wacky characteristics. The director plays on these character traits throughout random workouts.

While school shootings are a sensitive topic, Yerzhanov detaches himself from the traumatic experience by focusing solely on the parent-teacher group. In this way, Aggression completely fulfills its satirical and wacky potential by following the group of incompetent misfits in the director’s deadpan black humor.

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yellow cat and Collective immunity belong to the category of Yerzanov films that are more colorful, and despite the circumstances, are even more cheerful (to watch). Aggression leans more on the poetics of A dark and dark mana darker tragicomedy with clumsy humour. Aggression proves more hilarious as Yerzhanov tinkers with the situational comedy in his own original style.

Corruption remains a pervasive motif prevalent throughout the Karatas Village universe, and Aggression continues to develop the theme of crisis in institutions with a dysfunctional family history and another of the malaises of society, i.e. exaggerated machismo and other distorted forms of masculinity. Yerzhanov, who so often dabbles in hyperbole, keeps it within the bounds of his characteristic austere aesthetic.

While yellow cat was carried by cinematic metatextuality in terms of satire, Aggression achieved the dimensions of a bizarre parody on action-thriller films, albeit more like a by-product of social tragicomedy, rather than intended as pure genre parody.

The notorious storyline of ill-suited, overly incompatible characters who are forced to learn to cooperate in order to move forward can be Aggressionthe backbone of the plot. Yet the director does it on his own terms in a hilarious crossover of social comedy-drama and farce, driven by undercurrents of dark humor, which so often fuel the anti-climactic punchlines in Yerzhanov’s works.

The film presented recently in competition at the Rotterdam International Film Festival.

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