Friday, 4 June 2010

And this would be...

...the place for a quote. But this time I have none - somehow it always turns out that I forget the Moleskine when it would be of most use...

Finally saw Cristi Puiu's 'Aurora' last night, as the last movie I managed to 'catch' so far at the TIFF; and in a way, it was disturbing and moving enough for me to still think about it today, and it caused in me a need to write a couple of quick lines about it, even tho I really didn't want to in a way...and yet, it wasn't what I expected it would be.

'Aurora' is a tremendously sad film, one about a man who has lost love in his life, and will do anything in order to 'improve' that - but his choice of 'improvement' is just unbearably wrong, tho, it seems, it is the only one he can think of, a sort of a last attempt to make things right, by making them completely wrong.

The topic in itself is beautiful; and so is Puiu as the understated, silent, not-really-existing-anymore Viorel. But all this still doesn't amount to a beautiful film. The biggest problem is, paradoxically, the movie's length; In his previous film, 'Lazarescu', capturing the slowness of time passing was necessary as a way to illustrate the slowness of the system. 'Aurora', however, has no intention of dealing with the system - it is a film so tremendously private, it made me feel like a voyeur on occasions; and as much as Puiu tries to root it in the contemporary Romanian society (and he does so through a number of amazing little details, conversations, nods and looks; unfortunately, while some of them were visible to me, I was painfully aware the entire time that most of the finesse is just slipping through my fingers like fine sand - as a foreigner, it is hard to relate to little everyday things that are, to me, completely unknown, and for which I just have no interpretation, or even feeling. But this is always the danger of film as medium - its narrative is never quite translatable, and a lot of it gets lost in between layers; luckily, some of the messages are universal - were they not, it would make watching foreign films completely impossible...), its story is universal in a way that allows it to re-play itself anywhere and everywhere. The pacing of the movie thus becomes a decision, rather than a necessity derived from its intention - and Puiu makes a somewhat bad choice deciding to observe his (anti)hero with such a lazy, drowsy cinematographic eye, as the final 'finding' just isn't 'big' enough to justify for all the seconds spent in waiting for its revelation. But it is definitely sad enough, regardless of whether one perceives the poor Viorel as insane, tragic, or just unbearably lonely (and, as one of the characters of the movie labels him, 'a big softie'). Puiu's film might be viewed as a study of human nature, and our capability of committing a crime (in that view, it shares an overlapping territory with another amazing film I've seen recently, Bong's 'Mother') - and seeing it like this, pulled through the filters of morale that places the biggest value on the the life of a person, feels 'right' somehow. But for me, it is more a study on sadness of an individual, who is only 'crazy' when thought of as of a number, a general Someone, and not an individual with emotions and dilemmas - as much as saying this makes me feel shy, almost embarrassed for my moral drift. Whether the director's decision to shoot it in a slow pace was 'programmatic' (keeping his reputation of the 'initiator', if not the ideologist of the Romanian New Wave cinema) or purely instinctive is maybe less important. More important is his tremendous arrogance in titling the film - 'Aurora', he explained after the screening, means the beginning, and every beginning is a good in itself. For Viorel, however, there is no real beginning anymore - nothing that opens before him promises a field of opportunities, only a prison cell and some more loneliness, just of the kind he was trying to escape in the first place. And only someone completely insensitive of his suffering could play on him such a cruel language trick. But knowing that Puiu and Viorel, for the three hours of the movie, become one (literally, as the latter is both created and embodied by the former), one should maybe think of it only as of self-irony, and not an offense. In any case, 'Aurora' is not an easy experience to live through for sure, but also not an easy one to watch.

Or maybe I just got it all wrong again?

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