Given the current recommendation to stay home and practice social distancing, we at the Chicago International Film Festival are looking at past selections from each year of the Festival that you can stream now from home. Stream our past selections as we look forward to the 56th Chicago International Film Festival this October 14-25, 2020. Find the full 56 Films for 56 Years selections here.
Today’s #56Films entry comes from the 41st Chicago International Film Festival where Cristi Puiu’s masterful black comedy introduced the world to the Romanian New Wave.
Director: Cristi Puiu
41st Chicago International Film Festival
The Romanian New Wave first caught the world’s attention with Cristi Puiu’s masterful black comedy, which exemplified the dry, sardonic humor and pointed social commentary that would come to define the movement. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu is exactly what its title suggests, following a sick old man (Ion Fiscuteanu) who waits 40 minutes for an ambulance, only to get shuttled around from hospital to hospital because no emergency room will take him. Luminița Gheorghiu gives a standout performance as his paramedic, who desperately advocates for him as the bureaucratic absurdities mount and the clock starts to run out on his life. It’s a grueling, near-real-time affair, but Puiu renders it with just the right mix of realism and humor. — Scott Tobias, Film Critic