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France · 2022
1h 37m
Director Romain Gavras
Starring Dali Benssalah, Anthony Bajon, Alexis Manenti, Ouassini Embarek
Genre Action, Drama, Thriller

Chaos erupts after the apparent police killing of a 13-year-old French-Algerian boy, shown through the eyes of the murdered boy’s three brothers: Abdel, a peacemaking soldier in the French army; Karim, a charismatic youth leader; and Moktar, whose disaffection has turned to drug dealing. A searing emotional thriller about police violence, racism, and the immigrant underclass.

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What are critics saying?


TheWrap by Carlos Aguilar

Within the first few minutes of Athena, it’s clear this is propulsive filmmaking with thematic substance.


IndieWire by David Ehrlich

Athena effectively taps into the class, racial, and religious angers of modern France, which it sees as a powder keg that’s just waiting for the right spark to explode, but the film’s broad saga of brothers in crisis is so thin and symbolic that any deeper connection to the real world is sacrificed at the altar of intensity. An intensity that resists psychology, muffles sociopolitical context, and eventually swallows itself whole.


The Hollywood Reporter by David Rooney

While the film’s emphatic style can become draining, and its attention to technique risks overshadowing the interpersonal drama, there’s an operatic grandeur here that won’t quit, giving the constantly escalating violence considerable power.


The Playlist by Marshall Shaffer

Especially after the film’s stunning conclusion, Athena is destined to leave jaws on the floor and heart rates significantly elevated long after the credits roll. This is the painful, perilous present tense written in the flash of a smartphone camera and the blaze of a Molotov cocktail.


The Guardian by Peter Bradshaw

It’s spectacular and immersive, with a sensational opening. But it gets bogged down in its own one-note, one-tempo uproar and open-ended parkour camerawork – impressive though that is – and suffers from a number of sneaky false-flag get-out clauses that feel like a cop-out.


Variety by Peter Debruge

The result is nothing short of an urban war movie, as charismatic characters decide to do something about the outrage people have been expressing toward law enforcement in the real world.

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