The Death of Mr. Lãzãrescu (2005) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali
Mr. Lãzãrescu, a dying old man, is shuttled from hospital to hospital by a loyal paramedic as doctors refuse to operate and no one can agree on a diagnosis. Available on Netflix.
This Romanian movie from 2005 is definitely a pretty grim watch; it is a deeply sad and infuriating film but bizarrely at times it’s even darkly comedic, which is why it is sold as a comedy on the poster… but don’t be deceived.
It’s the story of a 62 year old man who’s been having stomach pain since the beginning of the day and who decides to ask for help to his neighbours. Eventually an ambulance is called, starting a series of events in which the man gets shuttled from one hospital to another as his condition deteriorates.
The fact that the second name of the man is Dante is not by chance, as this seems to be a real descent into a real hell.
At the beginning of the film I didn’t think I was going to buy into it. I found its pace very slow, the characters not very engaging, but I have to say, the more story unravelled, the more I got sucked in and by the end I was actually glued to it, as well as angry and pretty much deflated.
It is an incredible film, rich in details and populated by people who feel so real that you might be mistaking this for a documentary.
It is also filmed like a documentary and aside from a brief tiny time-jump during the last act, the rest happens pretty much all in real time, which adds to not just to the realism but to the agony and frustration at the shameful acts taking place in front of your eyes.
It is certainly not one for everyone, but if you give it a chance you’ll find a little gem of film that says so much not just about the state of the health system (this takes place in Romania, but it might as well take place anywhere else in the world), but about human beings too: those random strangers we find along the way, some incredibly nice, some deplorable and selfish, some just lazy, others pure bastards.
I’m not going to be able to shake it off easily. It is remarkable film, beautifully acted, choreographed and profoundly moving.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.
The Death of Mr. Lãzãrescu is available to watch on Netflix
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