on May 17, 2008
The Death of Mr Lazarescu is the most important film of the year. It is also the most important Romanian film ever made. And yet, most people won't see it because it's Romanian and because it's about the death of a man in reality. Well, friends, you're missing out big time.
Although being billed as a black comedy, what you have is closer to tragedy. You're watching the dehumanisation of the man next door. You're watching as this apparently normal ageing man is mocked, disrespected and disregarded from hospital to hospital, by doctors, nurses...they don't care that this man may be dying or that he may be in pain, they really don't care. What's that tell you? The importance of this film lies in the way it makes us more human. You swallow back disgust for yourself and others, you die side by side with Lazarescu, and you're reborn the better for it.
The Death of Mr Lazarescu is, to use a well-deserved cliché, a labour of love. The script, the acting, the ideas, the timing, the lighting, the angles - it all works. And no amount of art-house awards or Oscar ignorance can take away the impact that this masterful composition has. Is Puiu the next Kieslowski? Will the rest of the films in the series be as great? Can an intelligent filmmaker reach out to the general public? We'll see.
Bogdan Tiganov - author of Romanian For Sale and the soon to be released The Wooden Tongue Speaks Romanians: Contradictions & Realities