Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Aurora (2010)

Aurora (2010)

Genre: Drama
Director: Cristi Puiu
Starring: Cristi Puiu, Clara Voda, Catrinel Dumitrescu, Luminita Gheorghiu
Duration: 181 min.
Rating: 7.0

Inside a non-descript apartment kitchen, a man and a woman discuss the inconsistencies in Little Red Riding Hood, their voices hushed, mindful of waking the little girl sleeping in the next room.  Behind a line of abandoned trailers, on the outskirts of Bucharest, the same man waits for something or someone to arrive.  At a metallurgical factory, he collects two hand-made firing pins secretly prepared by a coworker. The man's name is Viorel.  He is 42 years old, divorced, a father of two young girls, and today he will carry out a plan that will bring order to his world.

Aurora is a Romanian film written, directed by, and starring Cristi Puiu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu).  It is his third feature film and the second part of his planned Six Stories from the Outskirts of Bucharest series.  It premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.

A three hour long epic with not so epic ambitions, Aurora will certainly test the attention span of even the most hardened film goer.  Stylistically it's a part of the Romanian New Wave with slow deliberate takes, a dark and bleak atmosphere, and a voyeuristic camera, but thematically it's closer to a slasher flick than the usual social or political commentary found in Romanian cinema.  Still, a large proportion of the running time is spent following the lead character Viorel (played by the director himself) as he seemingly goes through a normal day performing mundane tasks.  Walking around, going to work, driving around, taking a shower, skulking around his drab apartment.  It isn't until well past an hour into the film, when he goes shopping for a new shotgun, that we finally get a sense of why we are following this guy around. 

Puiu does have a way of captivating while not showing anything, the camera is frequently framed behind doorways or around corners, documenting the action from a distance or behind walls.  Emphasizing this detached eye witness point of view makes the cold and sudden outbursts of violence more shocking and effective.  However, he also shows a talent for frustrating the audience, as no motive to explain the strange actions and events is offered until almost the very end of the film.

I usually adore long meandering unconventional narratives, but its difficult to recommend this one to anyone other than those already in love with Romanian cinema.  On one hand it's a very inventive take on an old tale, and on the other hand it demands way more patience than necessary.


The Angry Lurker said...

When you said 3 hours and demands way more patience than necessary, my arse went numb. Sorry.

Xenototh X said...

Yeah, I am going with Lurker on this one. I am all for a story that is really... thorough, but 3 hours...

Moob said...


Adalmin said...

Looks like something I'd have to look up the plot twists for, just to spare myself the boredom!

Tim B. said...

Sounds like an interesting concept: boring, boring, boring, explosion of violence? Might be worth checking out sometime.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

No worries, I don't expect this will get a warm reception from any of my regular readers.

Hoi-Ming Ng said...

I’m probably going to have to pass on this one too.


Jcohen7523 said...

Camera angles sounds like it adds extra special tension.

Jarek G said...

this was a pretty good flick

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