Thursday, June 18, 2009

El Aura

Esteban is sick of his boring life. He's a taxidermist whose wife has just left him and his only real friend annoys the crap out of him. To make matters worse he goes on a hunting trip to get away from it all and accidentally kills someone. There are two things about Esteban that are unique: he's epileptic and he has a photographic memory. The hunter he killed was standing next to a shack in the woods. Esteban checked the shack and discovered the victim was deep in the planning phase of an armored truck heist. And so we find Esteban at a turning point. Does he do the normal thing and run to the police about the accidental death? Or does he keep it a secret, use his photographic memory and do something, finally, exciting in his life and attempt to pull off the heist himself. Well, there wouldn't be much of a movie if he picked the former and he does not. This 2005 Argentinian drama by director Fabian Bielinsky was only his second feature but it is very well executed. The pacing is great and his choice of shot sequences is really fantastic. In fact, the visuals look like those orchestrated by a master directer. They really are fantastic. The story is engaging as well and the performances seemed very natural, even the secondary characters that only momentarily appear, some of whom aren't even named. The only complaint I have is that the reliance on violence seemed to confuse the message. I understand, and like, the idea of a story about a guy who wants to do something daring to break up the monotony of his pretty sad life, but I find it hard to sympathize with someone who causes unnecessary death in furtherance of his personal identity crisis. Take the tipping point for example. Why did Bielinsky find it necessary for him to kill the guy. Couldn't he have just stumbled upon the shack? He has a photographic memory, he really only needed to read all the plans. Hell, it may have even made the scene more tense, since there would be the chance that the guy could walk in at any moment. Other innocent people die in the furtherance of the plan too. If they were necessary I would buy it, but the point of the film, for me, was that this guy was trying to get a little excitement and grow some balls. People just don't have to die for you to do that and tell a good story. This was the only thing that detracted from the story for me. Outside of this, everything about this movie is interesting, fresh and engaging.

Worth Watching

1 comment:

aptron said...

Nice review, but I respectfully disagree about some aspects of the film. I just like saying "film".

I understand your point about unnecessary violence, but in this case it was interesting because he was against hunting and killing ("no one gets hurt" schemes). But it was his skittishness and nervousness around guns that led to the accidental shooting. This also pushed the story forward by allowing him to assume the life of the heist mastermind. The movie would not have been the same with the original ringleader still around. Perhaps it could have been another storyline but in this case it kept the focus on the transformation he has to go through.
More violence ensued when the third guard showed up, but a perfectly executed heist has no drama.
In the end our man seems to have escaped without any harm done or consequences.
I actually liked the symbolism between him and the wolf, even if I don't quite get all parts of it.
Overall I loved the cinematography and the overall tones (greens and grays) that helped tell the story.