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September 25, 2005

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, 2005

lazarescu.gifSomething of a hybrid between the sardonic humor of a talkative Otar Iosseliani or Béla Tarr and the vérité-like, social realism of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Cristi Puiu's The Death of Mr. Lazarescu is a thoughtful and incisive slice-of-life comedy on the impersonalization (and desensitization) of institutional health care. Exploring similar issues of entrenched bureaucracy as Moussa Bathily's Le Certificat d'indigence that serve to impede the proper dispensation of proper medical care (and, more importantly, lose sight of the face of humanity behind human suffering), the film unfolds as an absurd subversion of Leo Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych in which the isolative process of dying becomes occluded in the pettiness, moralizing, helplessness, and coincidental distractions that invariably occupy everyday life as the lonely widower and retired engineer, Larazescu, is scuttled from one hospital to another throughout the evening after suffering from a bout of migraine and nausea. As in Tolstoy's novella, the process of death does not alter the process of living, but rather, becomes only a momentary distraction in an eternal - and seemingly interminable - human comedy.

Posted by acquarello on Sep 25, 2005 | | Filed under 2005, New York Film Festival


Funny collision that is of Tarr with Dardenne. What struck me is how surprisingly mature and controlled was this romanian film, perfectly in tune with the more industrialized countries of western Europe, in the good and the bad of our individualistic societies.
I need to read some Tolstoy.

Posted by: HarryTuttle on Sep 29, 2005 8:13 AM | Permalink

Agree with you regarding the state of Romanian film. I haven't had any luck tracking down any Romanian films in the past (the closest is probably Farocki and Ujica's film on the fall of Ceausescu, but that was essentially a comandeered video news broadcast). The Tarr humor is something that's certainly difficult to emulate because it's not rapid fire, gag-punchline as much as it is a sustained irony of situation, but Puiu handles it brilliantly.

Posted by: acquarello on Sep 29, 2005 9:18 AM | Permalink

Two gret Romanian movies: RECONSTITUIREA( aka RECONSTRUCTION)directed by Lucian Pintilie ,and FILANTROPICA(aka Philanthropy) directed by Nae Caranfil... highly recommended...if you can find them

Posted by: numelelutata on Aug 14, 2006 5:21 PM | Permalink

Thanks for the recommendations, I'll definitely keep an eye out for them.

Posted by: acquarello on Aug 15, 2006 7:31 AM | Permalink

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