Screened as part of NZIFF 2006
As a follow up to his internationally fêted début Nine Queens, Argentine writer/director Fabián Bielinsky delivers this spellbinding, noirish heist film set in the magnificent mountain wilderness of Patagonia. But to place The Aura within the heist genre fails to hint at the rich psychological tapestry and sense of existential tension that builds around the central character, a shy, epileptic taxidermist from Buenos Aires. Played with subtle, mesmerising complexity by Ricardo Darín, he speaks only when absolutely necessary, but we are soon aware of his elaborate fantasy life (aided by his near-photographic memory) in which he operates as a criminal mastermind. All this scheming takes place in his imagination… that is, until he is dragged on an ill-fated hunting trip by a pushy colleague and finds himself drawn into an elaborate criminal scheme. Has a lifetime of fantasising a career in crime prepared him for a real casino hit or double-crossing partners who fire genuine bullets?
“The Aura sports a shrewd, serpentine plot, and Bielinsky allows us the fun of trying to arrange puzzle pieces on our own. But he also never lets go of his preoccupation with character and crafts a style that’s airy and contemplative; The Aura’s gorgeous, deliberate visuals are almost hypnotic. Espinoza [the taxidermist] is a fascinating protagonist, a quiet, opaque man who suffers from epilepsy. The ‘aura’ refers to the eerie, frozen moment before a seizure when Espinoza knows it’s coming but can do nothing about it. It’s one of a handful of intertwining metaphors and themes that give The Aura a satisfying sense of wholeness.” — John Nein, Sundance Film Festival