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The Death of Mr. Lazarescu

Posted by martinteller on March 17, 2007

This is not, as the DVD case suggests, a black comedy.  There is some humor to it, but you certainly won’t be slapping your knees.  Nor is it, as you might expect, an utter condemnation of the Romanian health care system.  Some of the hospital staff are egotistical or indifferent, but some are compassionate, and for the most part they occupy a grey area in between.  And let’s be fair… a fairly uncooperative old man who’s been drinking and complains of vague symptoms wouldn’t necessarily receive the most careful attention here either, especially when the hospitals are simultaneously dealing with a very severe bus accident.  But it is chilling and moving.  I detected a bit of a Kieslowski vibe, certainly in part because of the Eastern European locale (not to mention a slight thematic similarity to Kieslowski’s own Szpital) but also because the characters are so incredibly genuine and multi-faceted.  The vérité camera style combined with truly amazing acting gives the film an unshakeable documentary feel, and the inevitable loss of Lazarescu hits home as something quite real.  Very well done and, except for a bit of a slow start, quite engaging.  Rating: 8


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