The Aura
(EL AURA) 2005
Director: Fabian Bielinsky

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Scene one of the Argentinian thriller The Aura (El Aura, 2005) presents an epileptic man (Ricardo DarĖn) awakening on a whitle tiled floor. He looks about in confusion, then takes his bank card out of the bank-machine.

The AuraBehind opening credits we see he's a museum taxidermist. We'll soon know he's a guy who finds his own life rather dull & entertains himself with fantasies of "the perfect crime."

He's never been in so much as a schoolyard fight & has lived his whole life in abject safety. All of his adventures have been in his mind. But without forwarning his life changes when, coming home after work, he finds his wife has left him, & now his life is not merely dull, but also sad & empty.

To get away from it all he goes with a friend to a hunting cabin, though he doesn't personally like to hurt animals. He has an epileptic fit in the woods, & when he comes to, he just keeps hunting. He manages accidentally to shoot another hunter, the guy who rents the cabins, & whose wife must now be kept in the dark about the fact that she's suddenly become a widow.

The film hinges on improbable coincidences without the least sense of likelihood, but it doesn't matter, it turns into a fun little thriller, such as are rarely any more realistic than this one.

The guy our hero accidently shot turns out to be part of a group of thieves who are getting together for the first time to carry out a heist at a factory. Our epileptic with the fantasy-life of planning perfect crimes manages to convince the gang members he's taking over for the missing guy who had to leave town.

Life is no longer boring as he watches from the inside as the heist goes all awry. The story happily elects at every turn to convey richness of character rather than chase scenes & explosions or the whole cliche language of crappy-ass Hollywood thrillers. And such unusual elements as dead man's halfbreed wolf keeping an eye on his master's killer, perhaps even bonding with the replacement alpha of the pack, keeps the film involving at deeper levels than is typical.

After the practice-theft at the factory, they turn their attentions on the real plan, to knock over a casino. Our hero walks a dangerous tightrope so that confirmed fellons won't figure out he's never so much as stolen a pencil from work, at the same time dealing with the dead man's wife, & her baby brother who feared or disliked the dead man.

Our hero's fantasy-born belief in "perfect planning" becomes an amateur's nightmare of miscalculations & the unexpected, as he puts everyone in danger. The story does not flinch as it dashes from one terrible repurcussion to another. The Aura is a fine neo-noir, worth tracking down on dvd.

copyright Š by Paghat the Ratgirl

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