Mr. Lazarescu, a 63 year old lonely man feels sick and calls the ambulance. When it arrives, the paramedic decides he should take him to the hospital but once there they decide to send him to another hospital and then yet another... As the night unfolds and they can't find a hospital for Mr. Lazarescu, his health starts to deteriorate fast.Written by
No. 7 in a Best-Of-The-Decade poll [2000-2009] by 60 film curators, historians and programmers conducted at the Toronto International Film Festival. With 35 votes, it had the same tally as Werckmeister Harmonies (2000). [Nov.23, 2009] See more »
Forty years after the last big prize received by Liviu Ciulei, director Cristi Puiu is back in the Cannes festival list of prizes with this strong but sensible creation. A new generation of Romanian cinema makers is born, and it not only succeeds in making a strong statement about the situation in today's Romania, but does it in a way that makes sense for international audiences.
There are three levels one can see Puiu's film. The first is the relation between the single human and the medical system. 'Moartea domnului Lazarescu' is the anti-'ER' with the universal character of the paternal doctor, playing God just to hide his own lack of competence and his indifference is kind of universal.
Then we have the story of Dante (yes!) Lazarescu descending in five hours the spiral stairs between being a pauper drunken in today's Bucharest towards almost certain physical death. An yet, despite the gradual physical degradation admirably acted by Ion Fiscuteanu, Mr. Lazarescu keeps intact his moral and human dignity, even as he slowly slides into a comma.
I am not sure whether folks who did not live in Romania or other former communist countries will catch easily the third layer. Lazarescu lives in a world in decomposition. Dictature is gone, but no social help system replaced it, his family is far away, his neighbors are simple people, indifferent and hardly coping with their own problem. Yet, in this decrepit medium he will find in the assistant Mioara a caring person, who will not only try to save him, but will ease his last hours with the feeling that yet there is somebody who cared for him. It's not quality of life, it's more - quality of humanity.
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