By Robert Koehler
(Click on the thumbnails for larger pictures.)
The cast and crew of Cristi Puiu’s Aurora assembles on the Debussy stage with Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux. (Very tiny, for sure; this iPhone lacks telephoto.) Aurora isn’t in the black comic vein of Puiu’s The Death of Mr. Lazarescu or Stuff & Dough–it tracks the initially inexplicable behavior and actions of a man who works at a metal factory, and yet doesn’t seem to live exactly anywhere, yet also has multiple addresses he visits or habitates. He isn’t quite of this life, but one degree (or more) separate from everyone else he knows. Eventually, he assembles the parts to a gun, and proceeds to use it.
In the end, Puiu (who directs himself, with a deliberately expressionless demeanor in roughly the first half and with increasingly virulent sarcasm in the latter scenes) constructs a slow-motion tragedy, but one entirely authored and directed by the character, who may or may not be acting out due to a terminal illness. (Which itself may be a feint, or the notions of a hypochondriac.) Aurora is a work grounded in physical reality while considering the enigmatic nature of human behavior. It resonates, and it’s impossible to stop thinking about it…..
The scene in front of the Palais main entrance is always crazed during the festival, but this enormous Sumo-nurse, or whatever it is, may be enough to give small kids nightmares. The unknown passer-by on the left is not amused….
At the ticket office for the Quinzaine, the one-sheet poster for Katell Quillevere’s Un poison violent reminds that it’s the next film on my schedule. The film traces in somewhat bemused terms but with extremely old-fashioned style a girl’s sexual coming-of-age during the time of her confirmation. Extremely rooted in French Catholic reference points, this was not exactly the kind of progressive and radical cinema that has historically distinguished the Quinzaine….