Olivier AssayasFrance / Germany331 minutes201014AColourFrench

Aug 6
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Financed as a three-part mini-series for French television but always intended to be shown on the big screen, Assayas' globe-spanning epic uses the life and career of Venezuelan-born Marxist revolutionary Ilich Ramirez Sanchez — better known by his nom de guerre Carlos — to explore the historical currents that have shaped our geopolitical reality for the past 40 years. Beginning in 1973, the film follows Carlos (brilliantly played by Édgar Ramírez) as he becomes the poster boy for a new generation of international terrorists, executing a series of kidnappings, bombings and assassinations across Europe and the Middle East and — in Assayas' central set piece, which could stand as a gripping film all on its own — seizing control of OPEC headquarters in Vienna and taking the ministers hostage. Assayas' most far-reaching (and darkest) reflection on the legacy of the 1960s, Carlos neither glorifies nor demonizes its subject; absent either psychological or political reductionism, Assayas compellingly shows how personal pathology (Carlos' vanity, vulnerability and lust for fame) can fuse with larger ideological forces to transform idealism into terror.