23 December 2009

The Decade List: Moartea domnului Lăzărescu (2005)

Moartea domnului Lăzărescu [The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu] – dir. Cristi Puiu

Like a hypochondriac’s nightmare as directed by Frederick Wiseman, The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu gruelingly takes its audience through the hellish, final night on earth for Dante Lăzărescu (Ion Fiscuteanu), a lonely alcoholic in his early 60s. Feeling pains in his stomach, he phones an ambulance, which begins a series of hospital misadventures, each of them sending him away due to their overcapacity. By his side the whole time is the poor EMT Mioara (Luminiţa Gheorghiu, a brilliant character actress who also co-starred in 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and Code Unknown). Part Dante’s Inferno, part Dardenne brothers, part E.R., The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu strangely morphs into the most excruciating comedy of the past decade, though director Cristi Puiu insists that wasn’t his intention. Based partially on an actual case of a dying man who was eventually left on the street by the paramedics after being turned away from several hospitals, the film mainly stemmed from the director’s own bout of hypochondria and anxiety. The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu was the film that began Romania’s surge into the international film world’s consciousness (leading to, among others, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, 12:08 East of Bucharest, Police, Adjective and California Dreamin’, to name a few) and remains the most striking of its national peers.

With: Ion Fiscuteanu, Luminiţa Gheorghiu, Gabriel Spahiu
Screenplay: Cristi Puiu, Răzvan Rădulescu
Cinematography: Andrei Butica, Oleg Mutu
Music: Andreea Paduraru
Country of Origin: Romania
US Distributor: Tartan Films

Premiere: 17 May 2005 (Cannes Film Festival)
US Premiere: 24 September 2005 (New York Film Festival)

Awards: Un Certain Regard Award (Cannes Film Festival); Audience Award, Best Director, Best Actor – Ion Fiscuteanu, Best Actress - Luminiţa Gheorghiu, Best Romanian Film, FIPRESCI Prize (Transilvania International Film Festival); FIPRESCI Prize: Best Actor – Ion Fiscuteanu (Palm Springs International Film Festival); Golden Swan: Best Actor - Ion Fiscuteanu (Copenhagen International Film Festival); Silver Hugo: Special Jury Prize (Chicago International Film Festival)


Simon said...

It's now Christmas eve here in London. So I want to wish you a very Happy Christmas and New Year. Your blog must take an amazing amount of work, but just too let you know I for one really appreciate it.I look forward to your blog in 2010.

reassurance said...

Thanks a lot. I really do appreciate it.