The Aura (El Aura) (2005) • Argentina • Fabián Bielinsky

It's sad Fabián Bielinsky died (young) after making this film because El Aura demonstrates clearly that its director has mastered his domain. There are a few puzzling moments in the script and its characters, but this isn't one of those "Don't go in that room!" thrillers, it's old-school/neo-noir; quietly intense and full of suspense.

Ricardo Darín's peculiarly charactered performance is executed with such subtlety and nuance that it's hard to believe he's acting. The sound design and original score are beautiful, and so perfect for the film they seem to be growing out of it rather than being imposed upon it. There are times when the lack of any soundtrack is deafening. The droning tensions and lilting piano ennui disappear, punctuating the moments of action with a moribund silence.

Sometimes I complain when a film ends with such ambiguity it appears to be a cop-out. But not here. The ending will make you rethink the journey you were just on but it won't devalue its magnificence. This is one of those rare films where the ride is so engaging that its hard to imagine anything but disappointment merely because it does end.

"Aura" is what doctors use to describe the moment before falling into epileptic seizure. Ricardo Darín's character describes it as a moment of pure freedom. The inevitable is so clear that decisions are impossible, hence ... Freedom. Clarity.


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