The Aura

  • 25 July 2006

This article is from 2006.

Undoubtedly one of the most intriguing films of the Film Festival is Argentinian filmmaker Fabiân Bielinsky's second and last film as a director (Bielinsky died of a heart attack on 28 June this year). An established assistant director and writer, Bielinsky's made his directorial debut back in 2000 with Nine Queens, a neat con artist fable set in a recently bankrupted Buenos Aires (the film was subsequently remade as Criminal in the US in 2004). The Aura, however, is a whole different bag of tricks altogether.

Elegantly conceived around the loner character of Espinoza (the mighty Ricardo Darân), an introverted taxidermist whose hobbies include masterminding the perfect robbery . . . in his head. After his wife leaves him, Espinoza accepts a friend's invitation to go hunting in Patagonia. When an accidental death presents him with the chance to pull off a real heist, Espinoza places himself in the center of a scheme to rob an armoured van. Unlike those in his imagination, however, this is a real crime with real criminals. As you might expect, Berlinsky as screenwriter pulls more shrewd, serpentine twists than a Greek island road. The difference is that his McGuffin - Espinoza's epilepsy, which creates an 'aura' - a frozen moment before a seizure when he sees the past and the future but can do nothing about it - adds a hypnotic, metaphorical, supernatural and enlightening feel to proceedings which greatly aids the many outlandish turns of the plot.
The film totally split audiences in Bielinsky's homeland; many Argentinian critics found it tedious, badly acted, overlong and boring while others declared it simply to be his masterpiece.
Nobody could have predicted that it was to be his last film. (Paul Dale)

Cineworld, 20 Aug, 9pm; 25 Aug, 9.30pm.

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