Cristi Puiu’s Aurora follows a recently divorced man (played by Puiu) and his mission to take his revenge on the people he feels have wrong him. Like The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Puiu’s earlier film and the movie that brought the Romanian New Wave to the film world’s attention, Puiu films very slowly, with each shot where very little to seemingly nothing is happening slowly builds a world around this man and his festering but simmering anger. Most shots are silent, often when someone is talking to Puiu, he responds in grunts if at all. His major quest is putting together a very particular gun that we know he will use for ill, as indeed he does in the kind of quick spasm of violence that sets apart the slowness of his real life but is not lingered upon (no Peckinpah here).
The best scene is actually the end when Puiu turns himself into the police and we begin to enter the Romanian bureaucracy that defines so many of the interesting films coming out of that country. Yet even with the slow-going elsewhere, the film is quite engrossing in its own way, building this man, this society, this gray fog of life.
I respect Puiu’s work a lot, but this really doesn’t add up to as much as one would like for the time invested. While I know Puiu is the most important Romanian director, I’ve enjoyed the films of most of the other directors working there rather more. I respect this more than love it.