Aurora (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byJennifer Tate09/11/2012

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 182 mins

A visually arresting Romanian drama that provides a constant feeling of apprehension, Aurora requires some serious thought and concentration, but its chilling final act means it certainly gives back.

What’s it all about?
Written and directed by and starring Cristi Puiu, Aurora finally gets its release date in the UK, after its premiere in Cannes over two years ago. Romanian filmmaker Puiu stars as Viorel, an unfulfilled father of two based in Bucharest, who’s on an unclear but sceptical mission. He is worried someone might be following him as he carries out his suspiciously odd daily behaviour, which includes lurking in the night’s public shadows and purchasing firearms, spurring instant wariness on what he might actually have planned.

The Good
Strange, suspicious and constantly distracted, Viorel is a man who’s clearly on an ambiguous mission, immediately giving off the impression that something about his character just doesn’t quite sit right. Constantly lurking in the shadows even when around his own family and playfully toying with a shotgun in his own private company, Aurora provides the instant apprehension (and certainly hope) that something or someone could explode at any moment. And without saying too much, the well-deserved payoff for sitting through and focusing on 182 minutes of tough and slow-burning footage (where in truth not a lot seems to happen) finally comes in its final act, which presents some unexpectedly chilling scenes which will certainly take you by surprise.

Puiu lends a powerful and emotionally invested performance to the film and although his dialogue is the minimum, his wary eyes and solemn glances tell us (almost) all we need to know about his unstable state of mind. The male lead also works well in his directorial role, extracting strong performances from his supporting cast, although it could be argued that Aurora is simply a one-man show, and a visually arresting one at that.

The Bad At a staggering 182 minutes long, Aurora will not be everyone’s cup of tea and to truly feel the hit and emotional tug of what the film has to offer requires a constant investment in concentration and sentiment. The first two acts (where not a lot seems to happen and generally communicates the same information about the leading protagonist’s eerie persona) could in truth be shortened to make this a little easier for conventional viewing and so it’s a little frustrating that Aurora spoils itself with an unnecessary hulking runtime. The script isn’t perfect (certain parts are a bit too forthright) but it’s more than adequate.

Worth seeing?
A brooding slow burner in need of your utmost concentration and attention, Aurora is not the simplest of films to swallow, but it does reward patience eventually. Worth seeing.

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Aurora (12A)
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Content updated: 25/04/2019 05:40

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