Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Moartea domnului Lãzãrescu (2005)
Unique, Perfect, Absorbing and Infuriating
Considering that this film is, consciously, one of the slowest films I have ever seen (it plays out a one hour wait for an ambulance to arrive in real time!) it is amazing that it also falls into the "rollercoaster" emotional ride that so many films strive for. The film is so naturalistic in its portrayal of Mr. Lazarescu's last night on earth that at times you feel like you're watching a documentary, and thus tiny details carry the weight and dramatic importance that they do in real life - there is one moment where the paramedic, Mioara, walks to the back of the ambulance to check on Mr. L and for a moment you think he may have died - you only see this in a long shot from the front of the ambulance, and you get the information from Mioara's dialogue - when you find out he has not, the relief you feel far transcends the film technique that is employed. The level of reality that this film achieves is unique, and not in an academic sense, in a future of film-making sense, and is alone reason enough to see the film.
The elements that made up this incredible experience also deserve a mention. The acting is out of this world and the casting is perfect - Mr. Lazarescu is sympathetic without being cute, Mioara is caring without being a hero, and the various doctors and nurses are all excellent (if I had a gripe, there was one nurse, in the CT scan room who was so pretty that she unbalanced the movie somewhat - she had movie star looks, not nurse looks.) Watch the way the staff at the last hospital show you how exhausted they are without doing anything, it's an ensemble performance that is outstanding.
The camera-work is also impressive. The length of the takes is sort of overwhelming, the movie can go an age without a single cut, and you won't notice it if you're not looking. It is also hand-held, which may well annoy some people, I was fine with it, it added to the sense of reality, sort of like I was watching it on you tube. That said, there were a few scenes, notably when he's on the phone to his sister at the beginning of the movie that were so wobbly they were distracting - I wondered if the long takes hadn't begun to make the cameraman tired?
And yet for all its genius, this is not a five star movie, it is a four star, and that is because of the ending. If you search the web, you'll find fight after fight about this ending and with good reason - it is a very surprising ending that, for me at least, falls very flat.
Well, not really, the movie is called. The Death Of Mr. Lazarescu, and well... he dies, only he doesn't. The film ends incredibly suddenly, with his head shaved, and him ready for surgery. Does he die in the instant that the film goes to black, or is it simply that the only person who showed any "love for their fellow man" i.e. Mioara has finally left, thus ending the "story" that Mr. Puiu was telling? For me, it does not matter, what matters is that I am robbed of my catharsis, my feeling of completion of the journey that I have shared with this man. I can understand that in essence his story is over, we don't need to see him die to understand he is alone, and we can understand that he is now without any compassion, but understanding is not enough for me - I want to feel it. Is Oedipus over when we and he understand what he has done? No, we get to see him tear out his eyes. Is Macbeth over when he realises that Macduff is going to kill him? No, we get to see him killed. I know Mr. L is alone and about to die - but I want to see it, and feel it, because I care.
That said, it was a very bold choice, that certainly had everyone I saw it with talking about it for a very long time - which is perhaps a fitting tribute for this wonderful film. Mr. Puiu is a talent that will I am sure go on to do incredible work. I am very excited to see the rest of his tales of Romanian love.