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Z

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

France, Algeria

1969

2h 7m

Director Costa-Gavras

Starring Yves Montand, Irene Papas, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Jacques Perrin

Genre Drama, History, Thriller

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Repression is the rule of the day in this film that skewers Greek governance of the 1960s. Z, a leftist rabble rouser, is killed in what appears to be a traffic accident. But given the political climate, the death of such a prominent activist raises troubling questions. Though it's too late to save Z's life, a postmortem examination suggests that the ruling party was behind his death. As the facts leak out, those who tell the truth pay the price for their honesty.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

80

Time Out by

The recreation of the murder and the subsequent investigation uses the techniques of an American thriller to gripping effect, though conspiracies are so commonplace nowadays that it's hard to imagine the impact it made at the time.
63

Slant Magazine by Bill Weber

Forty years on, it’s still an eye-catching, fast-paced watch, but the plaudits it won as an uncompromising thriller and landmark cinema seem as shaky as the film’s villainous military officers’ insistence that its central murder was an accident.
40

Chicago Reader by Dave Kehr

Z doesn't communicate anything—except for the doubtful propositions that pacifists are more threatening to right-wingers than communists and that fascist terrorism and homosexuality go hand in hand.
90

New York Magazine (Vulture) by David Edelstein

The story of the "accidental" death of a peacenik politician (Yves Montand) and the investigator (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who unravels a right-wing conspiracy remains as fresh as a head wound.
83

Portland Oregonian by Marc Mohan

Avoiding the hyperbole and condescension that sometimes make it easy for ideological foes to dismiss the likes of Oliver Stone or Michael Moore, Costa-Gavras relies on the sterling performances of his actors (including Irene Papas as Montand's widow), and was rewarded with a pair of Oscar nominations.
100

Chicago Sun-Times by Roger Ebert

It is a film of our time. It is about how even moral victories are corrupted. It will make you weep and will make you angry. It will tear your guts out.
88

Boston Globe by Ty Burr

Hollywood political thrillers have absorbed this movie's you-are-there filmmaking grammar. Rarely have they re-created its fire.

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