Z is a perfect political thriller molded into populist entertainment. The film moves at a brisk pace, keeps the audience guessing, and has no interest in damning a particular party. The events are supposedly based on a real life events, which were later used as the basis for the novel, but you don’t need to know the history of the communist manifesto to understand the politics (and the country is specifically unnamed in the film) The audience is meant to simply side against the corrupt, and there’s a lot of corruption in the world of Z, and not all of it can be punished. The protagonists can only try and hope.
Costa-Gavras directs Z with a sense of never ending propulsion, crisscrossing from character to character, and keeping the camera moving at all times. It could have easily turned into a dull series of conversation in nice looking rooms, but Gravas gives it the momentum of an action movie and the editing does its experimental best to catch up. You’ll remember every character, and there’s a lot of them, as you truly get involved in their plight and the impossible wall of authority and misdirection that gets in all their way.
I had a disconnect reading all the difficulties Z had in being released, because I usually associate censorship issues being linked with ‘difficult’ work, and Z is anything but difficult. That’s not a slight against the content of Z, which will have you yelling at heavens and curse evil in all its forms, but a compliment at the fact that it functions as such an engaging piece of flat out entertainment. A CLASSIC.