The Aura

The Aura

*****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Director Fabian Bielinsky - who netted a raft of awards for his debut feature Nine Queens - proves it was no flash in the pan in this fantastic thriller.

Here he teams up once again with the crumpled-but-sexy Ricardo Darin (Nine Queens, Son Of The Bride), who puts in yet another wonderfully nuanced performance.

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Darin is Esteban Espinoza, an epileptic taxidermist whose life is in a rut. He is obsessed with hold ups ("People are robbing all the time, but they are stupid," he confides in a pal) and is convinced he could commit the perfect crime. It's not just his work that is stuffed, however, his marriage is, too, and when his wife walks out the door he decides to get away from it all and go hunting in the Patagonian forest.

While there, an accidental meeting - and an accidental death - plunge him into the centre of a real-life heist. Only these criminals aren't the nice, clever guys from his dreams, they're the real deal - bad men, who do bad things to good people. This, coupled with Esteban's tendency to suffer fits (preceded by an eerie "aura" moment when time stands still just before he collapses), means he is in up to his neck.

El Aura has a film noir heart as dark as the Patagonian woods. Bielinsky's clever direction - coupled with an atmospheric piano-driven score - make the wide-open spaces of the forest feel as oppressive as the streets of New York. Where El Aura really scores, however, is in terms of characterisation.

Though the plot is intricate, it never feels overly slick and Bielinsky always favours back story over a special effect. It is the minutae of relationships as much as the minutae of the heist which are under the microscope here. Tense and twisty, this is what thrillers should be about. How it wasn't short-listed for best foreign language film in this year's Oscars is beyond me.

Reviewed on: 07 Sep 2006
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An epileptic taxidermist finds himself caught up in a heist.
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Director: Fabian Bielinsky

Writer: Fabian Bielinsky

Starring: Ricardo Darin, Dolores Fonzi, Pablo Cedron, Alejandro Awada, Jorge D'Elia, Rafael Castejon, Manuel Rodal

Year: 2005

Runtime: 134 minutes

Country: Argentina


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If you like this, try:

Nine Queens