The opening scene of Partisan sets the mood - a bleak and seemingly lifeless town with crumbling houses scattered along a stark, craggy hillside.
Enter Alexander who, along with his mother Susanna, is taken to live in a compound, a close-knit community with a sole patriarch, Gregori, whose rules and values will determine who and what Alexander becomes.
The story follows Alexander's childhood and life in this cult-like community, isolated from the main township. Here, the women live in unnatural harmony, serving the man who "protects" them and their children. They live by the rules, as to question and disobey would surely cause their community to "become like them." ("them" meaning the townspeople living beyond the compound walls).
Raised in this hidden world, Alexander grows up seeing the world through the eyes of his father, Gregori. As Alexander begins to think for himself, fear and mistrust emerge and Gregori's idyllic world unravels.
There are many deeply disturbing scenes throughout the movie involving violence, submission and misplaced innocence. The lasting impressions are of manipulation, cold-blooded murder and mistrust.
The director says this is "A story about the power of independent thought and the tragedy of children not being allowed to see the world through clear and optimistic eyes". Indeed it is. It's also a story about the ugliness the world has to offer.
Partisan is a coming of age story where a boy questions the codes of right and wrong which he comes to learn have been driven by a warped moral code.
For those who enjoy grim, dark and disturbing stories that leave you despairing for what life has in store for you and your children, you'll love Partisan. If you prefer to to leave the cinema with feelings of hope and optimism, Partisan is not for you.
Partisan was an Official Selection of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and is coming soon to a cinema near you.