The film that brought the Romanian New Wave to global attention was this almost real-time drama about the last hours of a reluctant hospital in-patient.
“The movie’s staged hyper-reality offers a stunning dialectic between drama and artifice—where did Puiu find these actors? Ion Fiscuteanu in particular demonstrates an astonishing absence of vanity in the title role.” J. Hoberman, Village Voice, 2006 The Romanian New Wave’s first flickerings date to the early 2000s, but it was this film’s Cannes success – it won the ‘Un certain regard’ award – that swivelled the international spotlight onto a country whose film output had hitherto been practically ignored. It’s easy to see why it struck such a chord internationally: its almost real-time depiction of the final hours of an elderly hard-drinking loner as he has to negotiate the bureaucratic Bucharest healthcare system could be transplanted to almost any country in the world. The only even vaguely sympathetic character is the paramedic (Luminiţa Gheorghiu) who insists that her reluctant and colleagues take Lazarescu’s case seriously while they’re preoccupied with the fallout from a major accident. The film was billed as a comedy, but the laughter is that of uncomfortable and sometimes painful recognition. It was the first of ‘Six Stories from the Outskirts of Bucharest’: the second was Puiu’s crime drama Aurora (2010). The film’s long takes and ultra-realism would feature in many subsequent Romanian films, such as 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007) and Boogie (2008).
2005 Romania
Directed by
Cristi Puiu
Written by
Cristi Puiu, Razvan Radulescu
Ion Fiscuteanu, Luminita Gheorghiu, Doru Ana
Running time
154 minutes