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Friday, 24 May 2013

Aurora. Cristi Puiu. New Wave DVD release. 27 May 2013

Courtesy of New Wave Films
El Juanito was my local bohemian bar in Barranco. It was also my next door neighbour (almost): the best bocadillos in the world. Before I left the capital to go back to Europe in 2008, I sat in that crowded bar set up nearly a century ago by a communist man Juanito (RIP). He grew up in extreme poverty and fought for people’s rights. A group of bohemian artists-intellectuals were sitting with me, some of them had been in prison for years without any proven reasons and no judgement. They explained to me what they endured over the dictatorship years and how difficult it was to readjust to a society that also looked at a western way of life as a reference point to art and culture. The difficulty to express themselves in art or literature. We were all drinking jars after jars of local beers and I ventured “but you have been freed for nearly 10 years” “10 years is nothing mi querida. Democracy and freedom is a long process and we never know what can happen next… censorship is still around. Your visa has expired over a year ago and you will pay a dollar fee per day at the airport (which I even negotiated with customs), most of us can’t even get a passport”.
Cristi Puiu’s Aurora is a slow-burning post-Ceausescu film screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. Like The Death Of Mr Lazarescu (Puiu’s first film), follow up Aurora is part of a cycle of six tales set in a depressed contemporary Bucharest’s outskirt and is a tribute to Eric Rohmer. The film too takes place over a 24-hour period and portrays middle-class Romanians haunted by poverty.
When Mr Lazarescu is a 150 mns film witnessing the slow death of the protagonist, Aurora emphasises the pain and confusion of a man’s life named Viorel for 180 mns. Here, time is the main narrative tool with little dialogues for this thriller film genre: Kaurismaki and Tarrantino have a son. Cristi Puiu. The film is a “cowboys” marriage of deadpan actions and comico-tragic’s conversations.
Viorel (played by Puiu himself), a recently divorced father of two young daughters, is a 42 year old taciturn metallurgical engineer. With his new rifle (Czech ones are cheaper), Viorel is on a mission around town to sort out a few people’s life in order to end the instability that rules his own. We follow his 24 hour journey at work, in a rifle shop, in his car, alone in his empty apartment, with his mother and her unlikeable partner, with his neighbours, his ex-wife, ex-in-laws or picking up his daughter at school… the banality of a man’s life who mutes into a devil. Rigorous plans-séquence builds tension through absence, silence and pseudo-passivity.
In the interview that accompanies the DVD, Cristi Puiu thinks of cinema “as an anthropological device, an instrument to investigate reality, to learn about the intimate space of others and the mystery of human being.” A mystery leading to an existential issue as the murderer is a solitary and remote person. Puiu thinks that “artists can change the world, the sense of it but in a homeopathic dosage”. He feels the film has changed him a bit because he had to get in touch with the killer inside him to play the role and it led him to try to understand something about himself. “There are traces of killers inside ourselves”, Puiu pursues “but there are very well hidden”.
In the end, when Viorel gives himself up to the police and get questioned, one can wonder whether it is actually him challenging the law system that doesn’t seem to understand the complexities of the human mind.

Info on DVD = AURORA, a film by Cristi Puiu. A New Wave films release. RELEASE DATE = 27th May 2013. BBFC: 12.
EXTRAS: The DVD includes an exclusive interview with Cristi Puiu and a Trailer