“At long last!” exclaims David Jenkins. “Cristi Puiu‘s stunning, matter-of-fact murder mystery gets its big screen dues.” Well, two big screens at any rate, both of them in London. Nonetheless: “Seek it out,” he advises, and if you’re not in London, seek no further. You can watch it here on Fandor.
Jenkins: “In tone and execution, Puiu’s formally exacting horrorshow feels like a long-lost relation of Chantal Akerman‘s 1975 masterpiece, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, in that it captures the daily movements of a single protagonist with an artful, closed-circuit precision…. Perhaps the defining statement among a recent spate of films that take the banality of evil as their subject—Markus Schleinzer’s Michael, Justin Kurzel’s Snowtown—Aurora manages to convey an air of extreme violence without ever actually depicting any on screen.” Also in Little White Lies, Anna Poradzinska interviews Puiu.
“Six years ago, Cristi Puiu made a film that came to be regarded as a jewel of the Romanian new wave,” the Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw reminds us: “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, a tragicomedy showing an old man’s final hours in hospital. Now Puiu has returned with a substantial new feature film—first shown at Cannes two years ago—entitled Aurora, and by substantial I mean dauntingly long: a little over three hours. This is a formidable, enigmatic piece of work in many ways; with control and technique deployed with absolute confidence.”
Aurora is the “Film of the Week” at Sight & Sound, where Ryan Gilbey notes that this is the second of his proposed Six Stories from the Outskirts of Bucharest: “Puiu gives a taciturn portrayal of a bitter but methodical killer in Aurora, and there’s an extra intensity generated by our knowledge that it is Puiu who plotted out the terrible actions of his character, Viorel, as well as deciding how to stage them for the camera. Film and performance share the same dogged, implacable quality…. Even as he denies the audience any tidbits of information, Puiu steers our responses as fastidiously as any straight-arrow genre director.”
More from Tom Birchenough (Arts Desk), Trevor Johnston (Time Out, 3/5), Anthony Quinn (Independent, 3/5), and Antonia Quirke (Financial Times, 2/5). A couple of weeks ago, here in Keyframe, Michael Sicinski argued that “where Aurora fails, it fascinates.”