Espinoza (Ricardo Darin) is an introverted taxidermist who dreams of executing the perfect robbery. On his first ever hunting trip, in the calm of the Patagonian forest, Espinoza accidentally kills a man who turns out to be a real criminal and becomes heir to his scheme: the heist of an armoured van carrying casino profits. Caught up in a world of complex rules and frightening violence, Espinoza's inexperience puts him in real danger. However, he has another liability: he is an epileptic. Before each unexpected seizure he experiences the "aura": a paradoxical moment of confusion and enlightenment.
Review by Louise Keller:
It's intriguing and absorbing, this thriller about a lonely taxidermist caught up in a shooting accident, a case of mistaken identity and a heist. Every bit as engrossing as director Fabián Bielinsky's previous scam-themed Nine Queens, which also stars Ricardo Darin, and once again his distinctive features haunt throughout. The tension starts from the beginning and never abates - whether something is happening, about to happen, or in one of those enigmatic moments of uncertainty before the central character is about to have an epileptic seizure. This is 'the aura' of the title, when senses are heightened, sounds are magnified and images overwhelm.
When we first meet Ricardo Darín's taxidermist Esteban Espinosa, he is fastidiously putting the finishing touches to his latest work of art - a stuffed fox. His steady hand and keen eye stretches the skin and fur over the model and carefully inserts teeth and eyes. His is a solitary existence, but in his dreams, he fantasises about utilising his photographic memory to participate in a daring heist. Although he finds the killing of animals abhorrent, he goes on a weekend hunting trip in remote Argentina, which changes everything. There is a shooting accident, a dog, a cell phone, a key, a girl abused by her husband, distinctive casino chips, a robbery and a double cross. Suddenly Espinosa's entire life plays out through heightened senses. The plot itself generates plenty of suspense, but it is the genius of Bielinksy's deliberately paced direction and chilling soundtrack that adds a new layer of eeriness.
Darin is hypnotising as a man who has spent his life being detached from everything and everyone. His features burn into our psyche and it is his perception that engulfs us, as he steps into the shoes of a mastermind whose plan to rob the casino is far from foolproof. Tragically, The Aura marks Bielinsky's final film - the talented filmmaker died last year, aged 47.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
There are enough unexpected angles and elements in The Aura to keep us glued, not to mention a solid noir sensibility that weaves its dark magic through Fabian Bielisnky's latest film. Having seduced us with his urban crime drama Nine Queens, Bielinsky takes us into the Patagonian countryside for much of this caper, perpetrated by pro crims but executed by a taxidermist. Ricardo Darin's unshaven mug is the perfect canvas for this laconic, inventive and lucky loner who ends up with what passes for his dream of a robbery.
Of course, nothing in life is perfect, not even the perfect caper and it is Espinoza's adventures in the crime trade that make for a compelling story. Superb performances from a cast of minimalist actors, The Aura also enjoys exceptional cinematography and a sparse screenplay with long stretches of speechless action.
The mood shifts from pent up tension to dynamic action, all shot from unexpected angles, keeping us on edge. Like all good noir movies, The Aura has its uncertainties and dead ends, but the mood resonates well after the end credits.
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AURA, THE (M)
CAST: Ricardo Darin, Dolores Fonzi, Pablo Cedron, Nahuel Perez Biscayart, Jorge D'Elia, Alejandro Awada, Rafale Castejon
PRODUCER: Pablo Bossi, Samuel Hadida, Gerardo Herrero
DIRECTOR: Fabian Bielisnky
SCRIPT: Fabian Bielisnky
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Checco Varese
EDITOR: Alejandro Carrillo Penovi
MUSIC: Lucio Godoy
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mercedes Aldonsin
RUNNING TIME: 134 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Melbourne: March 22, 2007