Posthumous release creates an Aura of suspense

The Aura

on November 15, 2006 by Ed Scheid
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In this Argentine film, a fantasy of the perfect crime turns into a dangerous reality. Esteban (Ricardo Darin) is a taxidermist who meticulously creates stuffed animals. He is also an epileptic whose seizures occur unexpectedly -- the film's title comes from the moment before an attack, described as a time of “confusion and enlightenment.”

Portrayed by Darin with a perpetual weariness, Esteban's attention to detail persists from his profession into his daydreams. Waiting in line at a bank one day, Esteban describes to Sontag (Alejandro Awada), an acquaintance he met when preparing items for a museum diorama, how he would rob it. The theft, in which everything falls perfectly in place, is carried out onscreen.

Sontag invites Esteban to join him hunting. They arrive at an isolated compound, where they meet up with Carlos Dietrich (Manuel Rodal). It's just one of the many paradoxes of the film that, although he deals professionally with dead animals, Esteban is extremely uncomfortable when he points a gun at a deer. During the hunt, he accidentally shoots Dietrich and discovers evidence that his victim was going to participate in a casino robbery. Seizing the opportunity to bring his imagination to life, he learns the plans and insinuates himself into Dietrich's accomplices.

Director/writer Fabian Bielinsky ( Nine Queens ), who died of a heart attack in June, has added unpredictable twists to the heist genre to heighten suspense. Unlike his “dream robbery,” Esteban is in continual jeopardy as he becomes aware of new details, the schemes threaten to unravel, and his cohorts are increasingly suspicious. Esteban's epileptic attacks only add further complications. Meanwhile, a somber mood of bleak lives is enhanced by muted colors. The many unusual aspects keep The Aura continually intriguing. Distributor: IFC First Take
Cast: Ricardo Darin, Dolores Fonzi, Pablo Cedron, Nahuel Perez Biscayart and Jorge D'Elia
Director/Screenwriter: Fabian Bielinsky
Producers: Pablo Bossi, Samuel Hadida, Gerardo Herrero and Mariela Besuievski
Genre: Crime drama; Spanish-language, subtitled
Rating: Not rated
Running time: 137 min.
Release date: November 17, 2006

Tags: IFC First Take, Ricardo Darin, Dolores Fonzi, Pablo Cedron, Nahuel Perez Biscayart, Jorge D'Elia, Fabian Bielinsky, Pablo Bossi, Samuel Hadida, Gerardo Herrero, Mariela Besuievski, Crime drama, jeopardy, heart attack, mood, daydreams, hunting
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