Eastern European Cinema Club V: The Death of Mr Lazarescu

Posted on January 21, 2012


The Death of Mister Lazarescu (Romania, 2005)

Romanian cinema is experiencing a big upswing at the moment, and rightly so. Black humour, dark comedy, whatever you want to call it, it is very much in fashion these days. You have people like Frankie Boyle who are lumped into this category, despite the fact it has nothing to with dark comedy, and more to do with offending people. Don’t make that confusion, dark comedy and offensive comedy are very different things. ‘The Death of Mister Lazarescu’ is most definitely a dark comedy, and fits the bill perfectly. It is the story of a 63 year old man, lonely and worn out, who feels ill and calls the ambulance. They obviously take a long time to arrive, and by the time they do they realise things are a bit more serious than they thought. Lazarescu is then shunted around the hospitals of Bucharest at night, fobbed off onto the next at every opportunity. As his condition gets worse, the passing of the buck does the same, and it eventually reaches farcical levels.

Be warned, this film is bleak. But it is a different kind of bleak to previous films in this space, as it has a jolly side. Lazarescu is hilarious throughout, and the night time medic is also brilliant in her role. The film cleverly displays the 2 sides to everything post-communist country in Eastern Europe, with the young and the confident battling with the older generation who are coming to terms with this new world. The confrontations between these two are a key factor throughout, and a major reason as to why I enjoyed this film so much.

It is also long, but that only works to make the viewer almost a partner in Lazarescu’s agony. It never gets to the point where you are thinking ‘God I hope this ends soon’. It is just another key aspect of the film. A really bloody good film. Dark, mind you.


Posted in: Eastern Europe