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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique, chilling masterpiece
A masterpiece, for sure. This is another one of those jaw-dropping performances-that-aren't-really-performances so common in world cinema and so uncommon in Hollywood. Ion Fiscuteanu is just utterly perfect as Dante Remus Lazarescu. He is so completely watchable. All that time in his company and I was gripped till the end. But it's not just him. All of the other...
Published on 25 Jun 2008 by chinhealer

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Smaller life, smaller death
First Romanian film I've seen.

You're in an old engineers stinky cats flat; he's throwing up on his slippers, and dying slowly in his wooly hat.

For the next 2 hours, you breath in the gloom, taste the grim absurd pathos of his dying.

While he's waiting (for ambulance, to die) you can go out and make cups of tea and not really miss...
Published on 12 Dec 2011 by Jan Mecir


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique, chilling masterpiece, 25 Jun 2008
By 
chinhealer "Chinhealer" (Staffs, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Death Of Mr Lazarescu [2005] [DVD] (DVD)
A masterpiece, for sure. This is another one of those jaw-dropping performances-that-aren't-really-performances so common in world cinema and so uncommon in Hollywood. Ion Fiscuteanu is just utterly perfect as Dante Remus Lazarescu. He is so completely watchable. All that time in his company and I was gripped till the end. But it's not just him. All of the other actors/actresses were also pitch-perfect. Even relatively minor characters were fascinatingly played. This is brilliant, naturalistic filmmaking. And, yes, there is some comedy (largely in the form of two of the doctors) seamlessly woven into the overall fabric of the film which feels more like a horrific, inevitable, Greek tragedy.
The ultimate optimism of the film lies in the great humanity embodied by the female paramedic - earthy, weary, but wholly decent - and one of the doctors - an ethereal, angelic, saintly presence in the midst of so much medico-heartlessness, arrogance and recklessness. A unique and essential work of art.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dreadful realism, 2 July 2008
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This review is from: The Death Of Mr Lazarescu [2005] [DVD] (DVD)
This film had my (Romanian) wife cringing in the corner of the sofa. The portrait of the Romanian medical system was axactly as we have seen it in Romania except that the hospitals in the film seemed cleaner and there was no bribery. You can watch this as a strightforward documentary - it isn't exaggerated.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gruelling, but well worth your time, 19 July 2010
By 
J. Jenkins (Dudley Port, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Death Of Mr Lazarescu [2005] [DVD] (DVD)
Mr Lazarescu is a magnificent, humane piece of cinema. It is also that rare thing, a film which dares to ask of it's audience. In what it expects them to endure: an almost real time depiction of the slow and painful death of a frail old man, but also in how it allows them to empathise with the characters.

Give your film a handsome, eloquent old man with cancer and everyone feels sorry for him. Here, the main character is alternately stubborn, passive and confused as he is sent from hospital to hospital, and it's suggested his drinking may be at least partly responsible for his illness. Poor Mr Lazarescu doesn't live up to the expectations of one other reviewer here, but for those who appreciate a protaganist who reflects our own likely failings, rather than an idealised version of ourselves, Mr L is more sympathetic than any Tom Cruise or George Clooney hero.

This complexity also extends to the other characters. The medical staff Lazarescu encounters treat him with often horrifying disrespect, but rather than make them wantonly callous, they are given some justification by swamping them with the fall out of a massive car accident, (what would be the focus of most pics plays out in the background in extremely effective fashion).

Being forced to respond in a nuanced way like this is deeply rewarding, as any fan of great TV like The Wire will tell you, and Mr Lazarescu has a similar power to make you forget you are watching a film at all. The cast give uniformly excellent, naturalistic performances.

And yes, the film is funny, not in the unsparing depiction of illness and mortality, but the early part of the film, in which very little actually happens, which has plenty of gentle, observational comedy reminiscent of Mike Leigh or Lukas Moodysson as Lazarescu's neighbours interact.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tragically hilarious., 24 April 2013
By 
Mr. P. Johnson "Pete Johnson" (Norfolk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Death Of Mr Lazarescu [2005] [DVD] (DVD)
This film will make you laugh or smile, even laugh at first, at the character of the title, a brilliant portrayal of resignation, and lack of expectation, from the fine actor Ion Fiscuteanu. He waits for an ambulance to take him to hospital, yet when he gets there, they are told to take him somewhere else, and then somewhere else, and so on, into the long night.
With a small cast, much of the plot set in an ambulance driving around the run-down streets of Bucharest, and a storyline that gets darker as the film goes on, you might be forgiven for thinking that this film is bordering on farce, and has little to offer. I can assure you that the opposite is true. You will be drawn into the last hours of Mr Lazarescu, and the group of people that try to help, or hinder him through them. Notes of realism, and totally believable acting, give the whole thing a documentary feel, and you become aware that you are a witness to a great story of callous lack of concern and hopelessness, in a system that has collapsed from within.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is no comedy, 9 April 2013
This review is from: The Death Of Mr Lazarescu [2005] [DVD] (DVD)
After the opening scenes, I failed to find anything humorous in this film, but at the same time, I wasn't disappointed. This is a well told story, depicting the failure of a healthcare system and the slow undignified death of an ageing man.

The concerning thing is, although set in Bucharest, the same disturbing scenario could be played out anywhere in Europe as the plight of elderly patients is ignored and treated with apathy.

I actually begin to forget I was watching a film. Such is the realism of the acting and the camera angles that I became absorbed in what felt like a true life documentary. I felt anger and frustration as I watched a helpless patient being shunted from hospital to hospital across the city, receiving indifferent and varying diagnoses, constantly being treated with absolute disregard, yet trying to maintain his dignity and hold his temper throughout.

At times its not easy viewing, and it is so easy to become irritated with the attitude of the various characters, but that is down to the talent of the actors and the realism of this film. I would highly recommend it, but don't look for too many laughs.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where's the accused?, 26 July 2011
This review is from: The Death Of Mr Lazarescu [2005] [DVD] (DVD)
I found 'The Death of Mr Lazarescu' difficult viewing at first, not for its subject matter, but its pace (slow) before it grips your interest. It is a real slow-burner of a film.

I'm surprised that nobody so far has picked up the analogy to Dante Alighieri's 'Divine Comedy', the circles of hell becoming the nightmare world of bureaucracy in modern life (disclaimers, stamping documentation) as Mr Lazarescu is driven around Bucharest in his surreal night journey. Mr Lazarescu's first name (Dante), his brother-in-law (Virgil) and, at the end of the film, as a comatose Mr Lazarescu lies awaiting his operation from which perhaps he will never awake, he is sent to a doctor (Anghel) and another medical colleague, Virgil. It may be pushing the correspondences, but the female paramedic who accompanies him becomes his 'Beatrice' (guide) as they navigate the harassed, overworked world of social care beset by bureaucracy and indifference. I think one reviewer correctly said that this film isn't just about social care in Romania, but about hospitals everywhere.

The film does possess some grim, black humour as poor Mr Lazarescu is carted from one hospital to another (and different departments) with his condition rapidly deteriorating. Nobody ever seems to know what is wrong with him as he encounters different medical staff who are either rude, coldly efficient (illness is their business) or bored indifference. Mr Lazarescu thinks it could be his stomach; one doctor thinks it's his liver; another specialist identifies a blood clot on his brain. As a patient, Mr Lazarescu represents us, the everyman, and he is presented as confused and rude, as anyone would be who suddenly experiences the disorienting effects of illness, but he is also allowed moments of dignity (his concern for his cats, he apologises to Mioara the paramedic for causing her trouble and asks about her family background - simple moments of human connection, understated but made all the more powerful because Dante Lazaresu is a widower with a daughter living abroad in Toronto). One doctor brutally tells Dante that he has problems alright,but 'in his head'. Mr Lazarescu receives 'care', but nobody ever asks why he drinks and it becomes clear to the viewer that he has never quite got over his wife's death and his life has fallen apart. Well, that is my 'emotional diagnosis'.

Often I found the apparently mundane scenes happening in the background illuminated the main story. In one hospital, a wife receives healthcare accompanied by a supportive husband (their fortieth wedding anniversary). In another, Mariana & Mioara talk about marriage. We are subtly reminded of Mr Lazarescu's late wife and that his physical disintegration has been preceded by an emotional one.

The film is also about the paramedic as she struggles to get Mr Lazarescu to receive treament. She almost becomes a surrogate wife, helping him change clothes, chiding & comforting him. She and Mr Lazarescu are the emotional heart of the film. I particularly enjoyed, if that is the right word, the scenes in the Filaret hospital where she encounters two very stroppy doctors who do not take kindly to her comments for them to act (they argue over the scan results) and spend more time arguing with Mioara the paramedic whilst the patient slips into a coma. That is where the film reaches black comedy, particularly over the 'disclaimer' venturing into Catch-22 territory.

I thought the final scenes moving as Mr Lazarescu perhaps receives the final dignified moments denied to him in the film as he is shaved and washed by a nurse. There is little dialogue, just a final ablution of a dying old man. Naked and shaved, Dante reminds us of a new-born baby, helpless.

The film is also about how life & death are entwined. As Dante Lararescu receives treatment or should that be 'endures', medical staff exchange banter on married life such as Mioara with Mariana, a colleague at the University Hospital; the doctor who needs a Nokia mobile to get in touch with his wife. Life still carries on around Dante as he is slips out of this world such as the neurologist who flirts with a fellow colleague and then tells a brazen lie to do her a favour regarding Dante's treatment.

If this film makes us uncomfortable, then perhaps it is because it is a much more truthful depiction of what it is to be ill in the modern world. The particular locale of Romania adds another dimension (hints of bribery), but this film is a necessary antidote to a many of the films/television about social care (exaggerated soap operas) as well as a film about life & mortality as happens to one lonely old man, who represents us in all our shared vulnerability.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 2 Jun 2014
This movie is set in Roumania.It could be anywhere. See how the old man is dehumanised for being a drunk by all those he seeks help from. Sad.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern masterpiece, 16 Dec 2012
By 
Xenophon (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Death Of Mr Lazarescu [2005] [DVD] (DVD)
'The Death of Mr Lazarescu' is relatively difficult to classify in terms of genre. The plot is simple: a dying man, Mr Lazarescu, is in pain and is trying to get medical attention in modern day Romania. We track the journey from apartment to hospital to hospital to hospital etc. up close (Mr Lazarescu is in every scene) and have difficulty in deciding, throughout, whether to laugh, feel empathy or sympathy, or anger towards the Romanian healthcare system and those in it; Puiu creates this ambiguity in viewer reaction and sustains it throughout.

This film, a deserved winner at Cannes and other European film festivals, is refreshing for its honesty in the portrayal of this dying and chronically ill individual and innovative in its use of viewer ambiguity. Whereas Michael Haneke's 'Amour' deals with a similar topic in a more icy manner, Puiu manages to inject a humorous element to his work yet at the same time creating a powerful portrait of death and dying.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the most important film of the year, 12 Sep 2006
This review is from: The Death Of Mr Lazarescu [2005] [DVD] (DVD)
The Death of Mr Lazarescu is the most important film of the year. It is also the most important Romanian film ever made. And yet, most people won't see it because it's Romanian and because it's about the death of a man in reality. Well, friends, you're missing out big time.

Although being billed as a black comedy, what you have is closer to tragedy. You're watching the dehumanisation of the man next door. You're watching as this apparently normal ageing man is mocked, disrespected and disregarded from hospital to hospital, by doctors, nurses...they don't care that this man may be dying or that he may be in pain, they really don't care. What's that tell you? The importance of this film lies in the way it makes us more human. You swallow back disgust for yourself and others, you die side by side with Lazarescu, and you're reborn the better for it.

The Death of Mr Lazarescu is, to use a well-deserved cliché, a labour of love. The script, the acting, the ideas, the timing, the lighting, the angles - it all works. And no amount of art-house awards or Oscar ignorance can take away the impact that this masterful composition has. Is Puiu the next Kieslowski? Will the rest of the films in the series be as great? Can an intelligent filmmaker reach out to the general public? We'll see.

Bogdan Tiganov - author of The Wooden Tongue Speaks- Romanians: Contradictions & Realities
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5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this film, 30 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (DVD)
I don't normally review films but this is the exception. I loved this film. It was brilliantly done. The frustration of the nurse in her attempt to get her patient the treatment he needed was palpable. Ion Fiscuteanu's performance could not have been better. Why don't we get more wonderful films like this
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The Death Of Mr Lazarescu [2005] [DVD]
The Death Of Mr Lazarescu [2005] [DVD] by Cristi Puiu (DVD - 2006)
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