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This is another magnificent movie delivered by director Fabián Belinsky. I found the script captivating enough as to keep me tied to my seat from start to end. But besides, there's another goodie within El Aura, which is the photographic quality together with a pace that without being much too fast, remains still along the whole film -no decay at all-, making it a delight for purists and good quality cinema lovers. I found a couple of minor flaws which stand for the 9 instead of a 10, but they are indeed so minor that they can be perfectly overlooked. Moreover, Oscar Awards nomination should follow, as El Aura has absolutely nothing to envy from the very best Hollywood products. Indeed, film noir as good as it can be. Can't miss it.
A few months ago, a true tragedy occurred; and I'm gonna say the same thing many people did. This year, Fabián Bielinsky died of a heart attack at the age of 46 in Brasil, while promoting his second film. A heart attack was the misfortune of one of the great Argentine directors who leaves us two legacies of fabulous film-making: "Nueve Reinas" and "El Aura".
"Nueve Reinas" was a tale of the Buenos Aires reality; a tale of thieves and cops, a tale of honest people and bastards, a tale of being played (conned) in the best existent way. If America didn't watch Bielinsky's original version, they watched "Criminal"; and go check the credits because he is there and if I watched "Nueve Reinas" today, I'm sure I'd feel the same way: Wow!
It took him five years to release his second movie. I don't know when he started writing it, when he finished it and in how many time he shot it, but I know he did a flawless job. A movie like "El Aura", in any other country, is a very good film from Argentina, but for us it's something we've never seen before; something that makes us think and feel.
Argentine cinema is nationalist; it shows our customs, the family life And that's great, because new filmmakers have the chance of telling real stories and getting to the viewer But with Bielinsky the line is indifferent; the main character in "El Aura", a taxidermist, could be a person from any part of the world; but he is Argentinean and he goes to the Patagonia on a hunting trip.
What happens during that trip I can't tell, but hint; it's about a robbery Bielinsky's main character always dreamed of, about a dog that represents a lot more than an animal, about secrets told and secrets known, about epilepsy. The taxidermist haves these attacks and the movie begins when he has woken up after having one.
In one occasion, he is asked: "Do they hurt?". "No", he says. "I know when they're going to come; because a few seconds earlier, I feel something The doctors call it 'aura' " The explanation which follows that statement is a pure demonstration of the cinematographic language. Because Bielinsky understands the language, he plays freely with it.
His picture is full of silence, but it wouldn't be as good without the shots he achieves while the silence lasts and the facial expressions of the taxidermist; but that's the work of an actor. Ricardo Darín is the most popular actor of our country, but we see him act every time, and the ones who love cinema, know; that today he is also the best actor we have. Just watch him here in the silence, pay attention to his body language; he carries the whole film on his shoulders.
However, the rest of the cast is first-rate. Dolores Fonzi, Alejandro Awada, Jorge D'Elía, Pablo Cedrón, a growing young talent called Nahuel Pérez Biscayart (a cast member of the Argentine adaptation of "Desperate Housewives" Mom!) and a totally unexpected and revealing portrayal by Walter Reyno. The film has been discussed in many ways, because it might mean more than it appears to mean. Don't worry about that, just admire this unique work and then feel happy for it.
Fabián Bielinsky: May you rest in peace.
From the director of "Nueve Reinas", here it comes his new piece of
work you won't forget.
As soon as it begins, you will applaud every Darin's gesture, while you get immersed in the plot as you follow a shy epileptic taxidermist who dreams about a perfect theft, and all of the sudden gets the chance to make his dream come true. Don't let your aura put you aside the screen, you could miss valuable details as the action moves on. Take a deep breath, sit at the edge of your seat, and let Bielinsky do his job.
A perfect script, superb acting, and wonderful Argentine landscapes make this movie a "must see" for everyone.
I've enjoyed "Nueve Reinas" very much, so I've eagerly awaited Bielinsky's next film, with satisfaction Í could say that the waiting was worth paid. "El Aura" from my point of view is excellent, a classical film noir movie, but in the woods, it's atmosphere claustrophobic even wile the action was shot in the wild, and Darin's performance outstanding. I recommended it. But if you don't like that kind of pictures, please don't go thinking in "Nueve Reinas" this one is quiet different, less joyful and more dense, its end is like coughing in a room full of smoke. "El aura" leads you throw its atmosphere with a slow pace, descending to the deepest basement of the characters soul where everybody hides a secret ready to be released.
The Aura (El Aura) is Bielinsky's second feature. Two will be all we'll
have from him, because he died this year of a heart attack at
forty-six. The first is Nine Queens, which is rather famous and
suffered an American remake. Nine Queens is an exceptionally inventive
teaser and puzzler about con games. The Aura is a teaser and puzzler
too, but a moodier noir, focused on a 'existential" loser hero (like
Meursault in Camus' Stranger), with a slower pace and a more beautiful
look. It meanders and winds up more or less where it started plus a
shaggy dog. Maybe it goes on too long, but Bielinsky has used the noir
format a heist, actually several, that go wrong; a naive man who
falls in with dangerous company to develop a rich and mysterious
character who's got all the ambitions and defects of the noir hero, and
then some. No one respects him and his larcenous ambitions are absurd,
but when things get going he holds his own against some pretty rough
characters. He goes through many emotions, while remaining
fascinatingly unreadable and strange.
This unnamed hero (the exceptional Ricardo Darin, who also starred in Nine Queens), a taxidermist in Buenos Aires with epilepsy, first appears on the floor in front of an ATM machine after a seizure. He gets up and pushes the button and the cash comes outhis life is like that. Next, he's in his workshop assembling a fox. While he's delivering it to a museum he meets Sontag (Alejandro Awada), a condescending friend (strangers look down on him too) to whom he explains how easy it would be to rob the guards bringing the employees' pay. To show how much the taxidermist believes his own fantasy, we see the imaginary robbery rapidly enacted around them. Sontag has heard all this before, and seen his friend show off his photographic memory, and has little use for any of this. But since his first choice for the weekend was unavailable, he invites the taxidermist to come hunting. He refuses. But then, going home and finding his wife has left him, he changes his mind.
Out in the woods of Patagonia he accidentally kills a man called Dietrich (Manuel Rodal) who owns a seedy hunting lodge, and after Sontag leaves in a huff knowing nothing about this, the taxidermist falls heir to his victim's plans for robbing a casino. A pair of vicious hoods (Pablo Ceyrón, Walter Reyno) turn up, hired long distance to take part in the heist but not yet knowing all the details of it. The taxidermist improvises, as he's always done, about a robbery, based on what he's seen in the dead man's shack, foolishly pretending that he's been in on the plan all along. He also gets involved with Dietrich's young wife Diana (Dolores Fonzi) and her surly teenage brother Julio (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart). Finding neckties, chips, and notebooks with betting schemes, he goes to the casino and is immediately spotted by a security man-cum-loan shark (Jorge D'Elia) who picks his pocket and turns out to be the man who planned the caper with Dietrich. The taxidermist's larcenous ambitious are absurd, in his hands the plans for the heist get ever more complicated and confused, but he nonetheless bluffs his way through. There's another heist too that he gets to peek at as a result of listening to messages on Dietrich's cell phone. They all go wrong, Reservoir Dogs style.
"The Aura" is the word doctors give the moment before an epileptic attack, he tells Diana, a magic moment when he feels safe and free, but is helpless to resist the seizure. Apart from the striking widescreen photography of cinematographer Checco Varese, we can almost see the sound track, created by Jose Luis Diaz Ouzande and Carlos Abbate, which creates the epileptic attacks as aural environments, and brings in sputterings of guns and twitterings of birds; this is further enhanced by the music, never obtrusive, of Lucio Godoy.
The beauty of Bielensky's pacing is that the rush of action is interrupted by peaceful pauses, and the story, which is far more complex than we can suggest here, is sequenced in days to give it structure. Writers have alluded to a zombie movie or a Beckett story as hiding somewhere here. The torturous suspense of Coens' Blood Simple comes to mind, and also many previous noirs, but The Aura, with its Patagonian atmosphere and striking images and sound and its careful pacing, is distinctive. Darin's character is central to the film. Never was a noir more about character and never was that character so unique. Yet the taxidermist, like Dietrich's wolf-like dog with burning eyes who adopts him, remains a cinematic enigma. Bielinsky was an original and a meticulous craftsman who gives you lots to chew on. With this second feature, Bielinsky's demise seems tragic. The world has lost someone who was already becoming a master.
It's a shame that one of the most talented newcomers of the
Latin-American cinema is now dead. Fabian Bielinsky delivers another
fantastic movie, written by him, like the amazing "Nueve Reinas Nine
Queens". The lead is once again Ricardo Darin, and this is another
proof that this union (Bielinsky-Darin) is unstoppable. The story is
about a taxidermist with a great memory and epilepsy.
Ricardo Darin's performance is excellent: quiet, meticulous, and sharp. The movie is quite long, but the ending is perfect. Everything is where it should be. Is particularly original the way that Bielinsky presents the seizures on the lead role: the aura, is a moment of a "mixed up" reality when everything can happen.
Simply fantastic, please dedicate time to see this last job of a very great artist.
Ricardo Darin's Espinosa portrait is just like my reflection in the
mirror. I found myself in it. Fabian Bielinsky's 3rd directing and 5th
screenplay experience happened to be his last step of his career. With
El Aura, he carries us away into the world of a misunderstood desolate
man. For most films, people don't like reading a review or collecting
detailed information before actually seeing the film. But if the film
you're approaching is a mystery and cannot be understood easily in the
first view, you should get some clue of it before watching. Anyhow, El
Aura is one of them.
Esteban Espinosa earns his life with taxidermy, filling up animal hides of wild-life. He is a naturalist and jack of all trades, has a strong memory and is very observant. One day waiting at a queue at the bank, he shares his most marvellous dream -to rob a bank- with his friend; while he is being offered to accompany his friend for shoot day out in the forest. On a Monday, they settle into a motel in the forest, where they weren't hosted well enough and were questioned if they are local; putting them on the jitters. With this bad mood, they start arguing while hunting for deers. After his friend insulted him and left him alone; he gets caught into a major epilepsy fit for a moment and falls in a faint. When he wakes up he is unconscious; and while aiming to shoot a deer, he suddenly turns his rifle to an old man walking in the forest and shoots him. Gaining back his conscious, he goes near to the man he shot; whose cell-phone starts to ring. Espinosa takes his cellphone and his i.d. ; then hides the corpse in a pit. To avoid the trouble he fell into, he remains calm and turns back to motel to stay there longer than planned. His friend goes back to the city, then he starts stepping towards his mysterious journey; when he finds out that the man he killed is the owner of the motel.
The screenplay segments work completely perfect: Plot is very well built, script is written professionally in a plain format, story developing at its best, character developing is well crafted, and the main theme is so wisely gives multiple messages and views. Everything we see, we hear, we witness are elements of a complete mystery. This film needs to be seen very carefully. Flashback sequences will be refreshing our memory of the earlier scenes where it's completely necessary. Also it's clearly to see that the editing and the full post-production job with music and sound effects are best fit.
I find it essential to analyze Esteban Espinosa's characterization work. There are 4 basic factors that differentiates Espinosa's character:
1/His life... 2/His dreams... 3/His self-defensive attitudes... 4/His disability:Epilepsy
He is not happy living his life on his own. He has a hidden adventurous character. He likes trouble, he likes testing his limits. Thus he pokes his nose into everything. He steals, collects and carries with him almost everything he thinks it's useful. In fact, Esteban Espinosa character may be an awesome sample of a Point-and-click Adventure Game. His character has been designed to be another Guybrush or another George Stobbart. Overall, El Aura is among the best of all-time Mystery/Adventure movies.
I saw the movie expecting nothing from it, and I was completely astounded. The main issue of the movie, Darin character's inner desires of achieving a major theft, drives the main character to unexpected consequences, from his vane curiosity only. Darin's role is an epileptic taxidermist longing for something else from his boring life; I think that the oppression of the character is perfectly reflected by Darin who gives what I think is his best acting role ever. I was surprised also by Pablo Cedrón, a man which is very funny (remember chachacha and his Paraguayan sexologist) but here plays a violent skeptical man with hidden plans.
Fabian Bielinsky's sudden death gave me an incentive to write these lines. Since the first time I watched "El aura" (The aura) -three times by now- I was touched by an awkward, strange feeling. ¿What was about? A story of a zombie, a man who is not aware about his own death (This is not an spoiler, nothing to do with the plot). In a way, it was the same thing I felt watching "Carnival of Souls" (Herk Harvey 1962). These movies are not only about ghosts, lost souls, lost people, they were made by them. Ricardo Darin's character is Bielinsky himself: had he the feeling about his impending end? If you didn't know anything about this weird tale, take a look of it. Some people complain about its pace, the story, the absolute lack of sense of humor. And they compare El Aura with Nine Queens, the other Bielinsky's movie. In my point of view Nine Queen is a nice, frivolous exercise, but once and for all, "El aura" is a whole new game, a different stage. If you are in the right mood, it will take you to another world, the world from Bielinsky was making this film, near his own end.
Gently mesmerizing, though overstated and slightly clunky, The Aura is
an original crime drama that feels a little too derivative for it's own
good. Immediately we are given a lead with epilepsy, falling to the
ground and blacking out in the most unusual of circumstances. Right
away the concept feels slightly familiar for anyone who languished over
Memento's originality, and you hate to see this gimmicky concept worked
into the script. To top it off, it seems like the addition of these
epileptic fits are largely superficial and have little baring on the
plot's mechanics, dealing in stolen identity and the fantasy of
committing crimes. The plot moves along intriguingly enough from one
set-piece to the next, although lengthy shots often distract from the
tightly wound script in favor of cinematographic excess. The surprising
death of relatively young and promising Argentinian film-maker Fabián
Bielinsky is a slight blow for Spanish thrillers, but should not lend
to overselling the film on the small virtues it carries.
Mainly sinking the film past an excited response, is the dominating lead role played uniformly one-noted by a tired Ricardo Darín. It is evident his bored taxidermist character demands a certain detachment and dissatisfaction with the current lifestyle in order to convincingly sink into the world of organized crime without a second's hesitation, but here Darin substitutes any personality for the soulless take, pushing all but the most ardent viewers away with an uneventful performance.
The Aura does hold enough promise in it's development to keep a mild interest for all fans of more stylistic neo-noir type fare. The unrealistic, though sensitively captured mistaken crime fantasy does have a few finely executed moments, particularly amongst the action's more low-key points-of-view. Still, a strenuous pace, highlighting the apathetic leading character's motivations and personality, will keep most excitement and suspense to a minimum.
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