The Aura

"Very Good"

The Aura Review


Before his untimely death earlier this year, Argentinean director Fabian Bielinsky had been stretched to near-death over the Hollywood rack. Bielinsky debuted in 2002 with Nine Queens, a smart heist flick with a simple premise, and was immediately gabbed about as a rising star. Instead of immediately giving him money to do his next movie, Warner Brothers bought the rights to the film, remade it, and drained it of all charm and potency. Four years later and five months after his death, Bielinsky's second and last film is finally getting released.

It all starts with a taxidermist named Esteban (the great Ricardo Darin) and a boring job at a museum. When he's not stretching animal fur over plaster of Paris, Esteban has a knack for figuring out heists and bank robberies in his mind. So, when a botched hunting trip with a friend leaves Esteban to help on a small robbery in Bariloche, his reserved demeanor and special talents become a rare instance of utility.

In almost every way, Bielinsky's sophomore effort takes on a decidedly more mature, dusky tone than the studied jumpiness of its predecessor; the colors are all blacks, grays, and dark blues where Nine Queens' atmosphere was silvery yellows and browns. Esteban has infinite more depth and intricate psychology than Bielinsky has ever attempted in character before and the way he films Esteban's epileptic seizures (he describes the oncoming attacks as "The Aura") are equally mesmerizing and believable.

The Argentinean landscape, especially the forests and open grassy hills, are just as important as the story. There's a great expansiveness and loneliness in Bielinsky's shots of his humble country that seems to weave into Darin's saturnine candor. Unlike Nine Queens, which was built around the trick and the heist, The Aura gives all its attention to its central figure and by extension the actor who plays him. Darin's tired, haggard face can't hide the thoughtful darting of his eyes or the sharp sound of his voice.

Bielinsky's film doesn't transcend its genre in any way, it just keeps a more focused eye on the action and atmosphere of its contents. The epileptic seizures seem to be obviously placed at the right times to be set off, but it also builds tension in a few key scenes. Bielinsky restrains himself from discernable plot digressions; the widowed lodge owner could have easily been used as a romantic or melodramatic set piece.

It's obvious that Bielinsky was a talented director who had chosen the heist/thriller genre as a place to study mood and tone along with giving off a crispness that his compatriots often left muddy. Darin's performance alleviates the film of many of its shortcomings and detours into plotted territory. The Aura gives off scents of melancholy and dread that are rarely seen in heist films, and Bielinsky was that rare filmmaker who knew how to convey these feelings with subtlety. You're most definitely missed, buddy.

Aka El Aura.

I know I left that money around here somewhere.



The Aura

Facts and Figures

Run time: 134 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 15th September 2005

Distributed by: IFC First Take

Production compaines: Aura Films, Naya Films SA, Productores Asociados SA

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Fresh: 41 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Fabian Bielinsky

Producer: , , , Mariela Besulievsky

Starring: Ricardo Darín as Esteban Espinosa, Dolores Fonzi as Diana Dietrich, Pablo Cedrón as Sosa, Nahuel Pérez Biscayart as Julio, Jorge D'Elía as Uriel, Alejandro Awada as Sontag

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