The Death Of Mr Lazarescu

The Death Of Mr Lazarescu


Reviewed by: Natasha Footman

It has been said that at the beginning of every story there are two things the teller can do to make listeners interested in the main character; make the character pitiful to rouse sympathy or soak him in intelligence and prowess to impress and teach his audience. The Death of Mr Lazarescu, however, does neither.

Slowly following the journey of a sick man to and around various hospitals in an attempt to save him from certain death, the film is more of a long and drawn out death for its viewers rather than Mr. Lazarescu himself.

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As a production, the film is full of new-age inventiveness that is equipped to heighten the realism of the story; wobbly handheld cameras, dimly lit conditions and an incredibly slow pace, mostly in real time. But while the former two of these tricks work, the last and most evident one doesn’t, almost rendering the film unwatchable. For although it can take films a little while to get going, The Death of Mr Lazarescu never takes off.

Yet why is it that I never stopped watching the film? True, never write something off until you have experienced all of it, but this time I was so close to sleep or madness that this rule didn’t even cross my mind. No. The fact is that, although The Death of Mr Lazarescu is insanely dull and tedious and all of the synonyms for boring that you can think off, it is strangely gripping stuff.

Never before have I heard such authentic dialogue nor watched such incredibly real acting. The interaction of characters and the way Mr Lazarescu is handled by the healthcare service is absolutely fascinating, with breathtakingly raw performances from all the cast. For it is the true nature of humans that this film is investigating, above injustices in the health-care system and the resentment different generations feel towards each other, and although it is a struggle to sit through, once it is over The Death of Mr Lazarescu will have moved you without you even knowing.

It sounds ridiculous, but if you’ve never watched someone die, watch this film, and you will have.

Reviewed on: 14 Nov 2006
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The Romanian health service is exposed as a sixtysomething borderline alcoholic progresses through the grim reaper’s waiting room.
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Read more The Death Of Mr Lazarescu reviews:

Angus Wolfe Murray ***1/2

Director: Cristi Puiu

Writer: Cristi Puiu, Razvan Radulescu

Starring: Ion Fiscuteanu, Luminita Gheorghiu, Gabriel Spahiu, Doru Ana, Dana Dogaru, Florin Zamfirescu, Clara Voda, Adrian Titieni, Mihai Bratila, Mimi Branescu, Rodica Lazar, Alina Berzunteanu, Mirela Cioaba

Year: 2005

Runtime: 155 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Romania

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