The Death of Mr. Lazarescu

on April 26, 2006 by Wade Major
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Mr. Lazarescu (Ion Fiscuteanu) is a 63-year-old misshapen blob of a bachelor living quietly in a Bucharest tenement with a gaggle of lazy cats. It's an unspectacular life, made markedly less spectacular by a sudden, sick feeling he attributes to an ulcerous stomach last operated on 14 years earlier. As one might guess from the title, his condition doesn't immediately improve. And neither does the movie.

This stark, gritty Romanian import from co-writer/director Cristi Puiu isn't so much unsuccessful as it is excruciatingly dull. The docudrama-like detachment with which it spins its tale is fairly common among a certain Eastern European art film set, but, like many a three-hour Bollywood musical, it flounders when detached from its cultural moorings. There are aspects of Lazarescu's health care nightmare--during which he waits endlessly for an ambulance, is briefly cared for by neighbors, then passes unceremoniously through a series of hospitals, each less accommodating than the last--with which American audiences might connect, but extracting them from the film's two-and-a-half hour running time -- during which Mr. Lazarescu's bodily functions are all too frankly discussed -- would require a superhuman level of patience that isn't typically associated with the stateside filmgoing experience. Starring Ion Fiscuteanu, Doru Ana, Monica Barladeanu, Alina Berzunteanu, Doru Boguta and Mimi Branescu. Directed by Cristi Puiu. Written by Cristi Puiu and Razvan Radulescu. Produced by Alexandru Munteanu. A Tartan release. Drama. Romanian-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 154 min

Tags: Starring Ion Fiscuteanu, Doru Ana, Monica Barladeanu, Alina Berzunteanu, Doru Boguta and Mimi Branescu. Directed by Cristi Puiu. Written by Cristi Puiu, Razvan Radulescu, Produced by Alexandru Munteanu, Tartan, Drama
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