movie film review | chris tookey

Death of Mr Lazarescu/ Moartea domnului Lazarescu

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  Death of Mr Lazarescu/  Moartea domnului Lazarescu Review
Tookey's Rating
6 /10
Average Rating
8.00 /10
Mr. Lazarescu: Ion Fiscuteanu (pictured), Mioara: Luminita Gheorghiu
Full Cast >

Directed by: Cristi Puiu
Written by: Cristi Puiu,Razvan Radulescu

Released: 2005
Origin: Romania
Colour: C
Length: 153

Black yes, but a comedy?
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Fancy seeing a two-and-a-half-hour movie about a dying Romanian 62 year-old being mistreated by his national health service? The Death of Mr Lazarescu is being publicized as a “scalpel-sharp satiric drama” with “blacker than black humour”. Well, I didn’t hear any laughter at the press screening I attended.

This is a relentlessly dour, depressing picture. Almost every medical professional in it behaves in an unprofessional, inhumane way. Some are arrogant, officious and hostile, others merely grouchy and tired. Virtually everyone is rude, patronising and lethargic. The effect is to make one profoundly grateful that our own NHS is not like that – or not usually like that.

The film is acted very realistically, and it’s directed by Christi Puiu with a dispassionate naturalism very different from the sentimentality with which death is normally treated in the cinema.

This is, beyond doubt, a memorable piece of film-making - excellent in its own, highly idiosyncratic way. The colossal running time and nightmarish intensity make it feel as though we are descending very slowly through the seven circles of Hell.

I found myself admiring the picture, but I never enjoyed it. And I do feel that one of the things a black comedy should be is funny.

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