New Internationalist

The Death of Mr Lazarescu

August 2006

directed by Cristi Puiu

Wow – we know what happens in the end; it’s about the last hours in the life of a lonely boozy widower; and it’s over two-and a-half hours long, with long stretches in real time. Maybe that doesn’t sound appealing. Surprisingly, though, it’s often funny, never less than absorbing, and it stays with you. Its impact is glancing, gradual, accumulative as Mr Lazarescu encounters people to whom he’s either peripheral, such as his neighbours, or who meet him professionally – ambulance workers, administrators and medical staff.

Of course, everyone is different – one person more understanding, another kinder, more tolerant, another livelier, more cheery, or funnier. Yet, though everyone does their job to the letter, to no-one does Mr Lazarescu really matter. Procedure and professionalism rule, but no-one connects. A sobering, trenchant, compelling film.

This column was published in the August 2006 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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