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13 Tzameti

A movie directed by Géla Babluani

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Intense, Eerie and Smart Existential French Thriller!

  • Dec 14, 2009

13 TZAMETI is a French film written and directed by Gela Babluani, which won numerous awards in the Sundance and Venice film festivals. “Tzameti” is the Georgian word that means the number “13”. Shot in its entirety in Black and White, the film takes "Russian Roulette" to the extreme and takes an uncompromising look at existentialism and cold human emotion. It is also wicked in its views on its metaphor for the global economy.

22 year-old Sebastien (Georges Babluani) leads a impoverished life constantly struggling to support his immigrant family. While repairing the roof of a neighbor's house, he overhears a conversation about a forthcoming package which promises to make the household rich. Sensing the opportunity of a lifetime, Sebastien intercepts the package that contains a series of veiled instructions. Following the cryptic clues, he assumes a false identity and manages to slip through the grasp of the encroaching police as he ventures deeper towards the unknown. The closer he gets to his destination, the lesser he understands. Ultimately, he comes face to face with a perverse ring of gamblers placing bets on a depraved game of chance where the spoils are unimaginable millions and the losses are counted in lives. 


13 Tzameti is an intense emotion-driven, senses-provoking thriller that barely gave me a chance to catch my breath. The images in the film are truly cold and dark, the camera angling is almost flawless as the director takes us in a sinister world of underground gambling. The pressure and fear that the lead actor expresses in the proceedings are very convincing and takes the viewer in the middle of the action. I would hate to spoil the film by giving away details so I will just break it down into its themes: 13 players with guns lined up in a circle, guns are loaded with more bullets as the "contest" progresses. More risks, more money. 13 Tzameti is a triumphant existential noirish thriller that also plays like a morality play but doesn't hold back in psychosomatic masochism. 



I have to commend the film-makers in going with the Black and White style in its filming. It truly represented the bleakness of the situation and the insignificance of the players and gamblers. The lack of color also helps in reproducing the colorless aspect of Sebastien's life as well as giving the film a seedy, dark and eerie atmosphere throughout the proceedings. I am not certain, but I thought the Black and White approach represented the darkness and the light within the games and how the characters are seen as such with the shades of gray expressing the fact that the games are in-between both light and dark.

Emotions run high in a film like this and every emotion are carefully expressed by the screenplay. However, cold and unrelenting the premise of the film is, the director still manages to pull off a fierce assault on our senses that is very well executed. There are a lot of subtle details to be had with the film that I can barely take my eyes off it. The film is definitely stripped down of any lush cinematography that perfectly complements its gruesome premise. I liked the way the direction would play on the occasional spotlights and/or close ups to express the raw stress experienced by the players. These are men who are in for it for the money, (Sebastien’s goals were crystal clear) the viewer is left to their imagination as to why someone would take part in a game like this. 


If the film had one fault, it would be that the eerie aura that it exhibited in the first half couldn't be maintained. Also, some of the supporting characters become a little transparent until their perversity becomes displayed on screen. I thought it lost a little of its momentum in generating its enigmatic atmosphere. Yes, characterization is a little wanting, but the I suppose in a situation like this, it would be better to be unattached to the players since they kill in a murderous game of chance. The film is quite violent but it is more of a sensory experience than one that actually wallows in a lot of blood and gore. I guess the film gets its visceral punch psychologically, the film is brutal because of the manner human life is treated callously.

Ultimately, 13 TZAMETI is a worthwhile film that really impressed me with its simplicity and lack of clichéd dialogue, and the way it managed to avoid a prudish finale. I will be looking for more of Gela Babluani, I became truly impressed with this work. Dark, eerie and gritty, “13 Tzameti” is a winner take all thrill-ride that kept me glued to my coach for its whole entirety.


Intense, Eerie and Smart Existential French Thriller! Intense, Eerie and Smart Existential French Thriller! Intense, Eerie and Smart Existential French Thriller! Intense, Eerie and Smart Existential French Thriller! Intense, Eerie and Smart Existential French Thriller! Intense, Eerie and Smart Existential French Thriller! Intense, Eerie and Smart Existential French Thriller! Intense, Eerie and Smart Existential French Thriller! Intense, Eerie and Smart Existential French Thriller!

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December 18, 2009
Whew, this sounds wicked to be honest with you but I kinda like the idea. Gotta love those French films. They take things to a whole new level. I should definitely check this out sometime. X-cellent job!
December 18, 2009
I tell yah, this is one unique film for cinema fans. The French know their stuff!
December 15, 2009
Woop, holy crap look at the cast of this one! How long did this take you? Man, my reviews look like sh!t after absorbing the detail you include in yours. Great job, this sounds like a psychological roller coaster. By the way, ever see Stanley Kubrick's Clockwork Orange? What did you think if so?
December 15, 2009
Loved Clockwork Orange! It was awesome! I need to review it someday. Check this out, bro, this was definitely intense and quite frankly so cold and ruthless. I get the photos by searching at bing.com...copy and paste away, bro! They are addicting I tell yah!
December 15, 2009
William- Oh man would I so ever love your review of the Orange. There's so many unique interpretations of the picture that I know your take will provide insight like no other. What about the "Cast" section under Facts? That HAD to be a lot of work!
December 15, 2009
I am itching to review it. Maybe I'll review it for my landmark review # 350 (gosh, I've written that much?) It is one of my favorite movies and I'd love to have a go at it.
December 15, 2009
Are you kidding me? 350?! Holy smokes, you da man. You earned that #1 spot hands down. I have no idea how you do it. If you don't mind my asking, what industry does the Woop do his 9-5? You really should be doing reviews for the Times.
December 15, 2009
I'm 20 reviews away from # 350. I barely watch TV save for the news, "Supernatural" (so cool) and the discovery/history channel. I work full time in the legal industry right now but my major is graphic design and advertising; still do occasionally.
More 13 Tzameti reviews
review by . October 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This is the quote from the Netflix sleeve for the film 13 Tzameti: “Sébastien uncharacteristically throws caution to the wind when he decides to follow a set of instructions intended for someone else, leading him to a nightmarish destination from which he may never return.” It starts slowly, but then becomes one of the most intense films I have ever seen. If you are at all curious, then close this review and only come back and rate my opinion after you have seen the film.   …
review by . April 27, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
"13" is a wonderfully economical thriller, clocking in at a friendly 95 minutes, which starts off slow and gentle, then gradually ricochet its tension towards the end. The main character Sébastien (played by the director's brother George Babluani) is a typical hard working roofer struggling to put food on the table for his family, so when he overhears conversations of easy Euro while toiling on his employer's roof his curiosity is naturally stirred. But before he knows what is happening he finds …
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William ()
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Please "Like" Film and Movies and Keep the Economy strong....LOL!!      My Interests: Movies, Anime, History, Martial Arts, Comics, Entertainment,Cooking, Things I don't … more
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Cast: Vania Vilers, Marie Thomas, Christophe Vandevelde, George Babluani, Augustin Legrand, Aurélien Recoing, Philippe Passon, Pascal Bongard, Fred Ulysse, Pascal Bougard, Nicolas Pignon, Jo Prestia, Jean-François Godon, Djalalli Amouche, Melchior Aquino, Nouredine Ameur, Makharadze Avtandil, Hervé Babadi, Liana Babluani, Likouna Babluani, Temur Babluani, Laurent Bariteau, Robert Beaupre, Philippe Beautier, Allan Benkaci, Claude Billois, Gilles Bongibault, Karim Bouguerra, Jean Borodine, Bernard Bouillon, Cédric Bouvier, Urbain Cancelier, Matéo Capelli, Alexandre Cardinalli, M. Chapion, Didier Champion, Didier Constant, Jean-Pierre Cormarie, Simon Cohen, Jean-Pierre Cottin, Christelle Coulée, Stéphane De Fraia, Benoît De La Porte, Bruno Daveze, Gérard Desestre, Jean-Michel Delaloche, Cédric Deprez, Benoît Deseze, Abed Djerrar, Louis Donval, Jean-Paul Dostone, Emmanuel Du Couldray, Irène Joseph Edouard, Fred Epaux, Daniel Faure, Serge Feuillard, Cyprien Fiasse, Laurent Ficher, Eric Fouchet, Marc-Antoine Frédéric, Christian Gaïtch, Olivier Galliano, Jacques Gallo, Patrice Garelli, Roland Gervet, Alain Girardot, Philippe Gluck, André Huet, Mohamed Houssain Ali, Franck Houis, Mohammed Ikrou, Daniel Isoppo, Pascal Ivancic, Franck Jean Elie, Claude Johann, Pierre Johann, Amaud Kakpeyen, Samba Kante, Philippe Kieffer, Jacques Lafolye, Nadir Lalouni, Daniel Lefort, François Legrand, Jean-Baptiste Legrand, Jean-Paul Lopez, Christelle Louessard, Joseph Malerba, Gaston Marcantoni, M. Marel, Jacqueline Martin, Bruno Mary, Mohammed Mazari, Patrick Michaëlis, Christian Nedjel, Didier Nobletz, Pascal Oumaklouf, Raphael Palma, Jérôme Paquette, Franck Pejoux, Jacques Petit, Patrick Pierron, Jean-Pierre Pivolot, Olivier Rabourdin, Hugo Pothirath, François Rimbau, Laurence Roque, Bouges Stéphane Rouqet, Jacques-Maurice Rousseau, Yann Schmidt, Eric Sebaki, Marc Sevestre, Philippe Smail, Jean-Luc Solal, Vasken Solakian, Grégory Songelin, Philippe Sorgel, Vincent Stupart, Jean-Pierre Surmonne, Christophe Tanchaud, François Tissot, M. Tipret, M. Triperet, M. Visse, Paul Van Den Houten, Philippe Villiers, Jérôme Wiggins
Director: Géla Babluani
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: July 28, 2006
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Screen Writer: Géla Babluani
Runtime: 1hr 33min
Studio: Palm Pictures / Umvd
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