Monday, January 28, 2008

Moartea Domnului Lăzărescu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu)

Another impressive Romanian movie that will keep you in the edge of your seat feeling a profound anguish and perhaps some disbelief. But then, being a cinema-verité style it feels like if you are just visiting the closed doors of public health institutions of many countries, including the country where now I live. So the disbelief is temporary as quickly becomes absolute reality.

Co written and directed by Cristi Puiu the story is loosely based on Puiu’s own experience while suffering of hypochondria –only suffering stress and a common form of colitis. His own experiences plus the real life 1997 case of Constantin Nica (a 52 year old man who, after being sent away from several hospitals, was left in the street by the paramedics and died) allowed the creation of this amazing movie with a simple and even common story that will blow your mind and will make you think plenty of things not only related to hospitals and health care providers, but also about the worth of a human life, living alone, reaching old age in those so-called third world countries –and nowadays also in the first world countries -, as this story of self-important professionals is absolutely universal.

Think I understand why they are relating this movie to 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days, besides both being directed by Romanian directors, telling Romanian stories happening in totalitarian regimes, being cinema-verité, having long shots that replicate close to true life timing (everything becomes so real and true in both movies), and having slow pace to slowly, very slowly build the story, they are absolutely cinema masterpieces. Each in its own right, so perhaps it is not that good that they are comparing them as the only real thing they have in common is the is the great cinematography by Oleg Mutu that in this movie he shared with Andrei Butica in the hand camera.

The movie is labeled as comedy but I had a hard time believing that this is a comedy; even a very dark comedy and I love dark humor. There are some situations that some people may find comic, but it was impossible for me to keep on smiling as when the story develops I got this feeling of being very upset and started to feel really sick and impotent. This type of reaction only an extremely good and “real” movie can provoke it. So, if you haven’t seen this extraordinary film, be prepared to feel some unpleasant feelings.

This 2005 film won the Un Certain Regard Award at the 2005 Cannes Film fest and another 21 awards plus many nominations all over the world. Also was the Best Foreign Film scandal at the Academy Awards as was also NOT nominated. Seems that the Academy members do not like this type of stories, but also seems that they do not like cinema-verité. Both extraordinary masterpieces are unbelievable and unforgivable omissions.

This movie is the first of a project that Mr. Puiu calls “Six Stories from the Bucharest Suburbs” and all the stories are about love. This one is about the love of humanity or love for one’s fellow man and others will explore different facets of love. I’m looking forward to be able to see his following stories that I know will be so real and human as this one.

The DVD comes with very few extras; worthy of reading is the accompanying booklet. Not for all audiences you have to enjoy art cinema, but obviously is a must be seen hopefully by everyone in the world.

Big Enjoy!!!

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