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on August 27, 2007
Don't be put off by the violence of the image on the DVD cover for this film by Argentine director Fabián Bielinsky. It represents one brief moment in an off-beat heist movie that is full of twists and turns that defy expectations. Focused as it is on the mental and emotional state of the lead character, played by Ricardo Darín, it takes a while to even come together around a heist. Withdrawn and hyper vigilant, he's a detail obsessed taxidermist who goes hunting with an acquaintance in the woods and while in pursuit of a deer shoots a man instead. And thus begins an escapade full of deceit, danger, and increasingly high stakes, all complicated by the main character's epileptic condition that produces seizures at inopportune moments.

Darín is just fine as the taxidermist hero, rarely giving us more than a single intense expression registering puzzlement, concentration, confusion, fear, or fascination with whatever he is observing. A robbery, which he watches from across the street, has the creepy verisimilitude of amateur news media footage, random gunshots fired by unseen shooters and figures running for cover. Meanwhile, scenes set in deep woods alternate with barren and desolate expanses crossed by hard-top roads leading to distant towns. As with Bielinsky's previous feature "Nine Queens," this film mixes genres that lead to interesting ambiguities and unexpected results. Recommended for fans of crime films with some psychological depth.
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on November 1, 2007
This is just flat out one of the smartest contemporary heist films I've seen -- Darin is completely believable and the editing is sublime. Really, how many times do you hear someone talk about a film's skillful editing? Don't get me wrong, it's subtle and takes meticiulous care in building, so don't expect anything like The French Connection, but if you're patient enough to watch the fuse burn then the fireworks will ignite in your head. (9/10)
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on April 12, 2007
"El aura" is an excellent albeit extremely unusual thriller directed by Fabián Bielinsky. Bielinsky is a recently deceased Argentinian director who was also responsible for other great movies, for example the critically acclaimed "Nueve reinas" ("Nine queens"). "El aura" is very different from "Nueve reinas", but both movies share some common traits, like their originality and the ability to easily enthrall the spectator.

The main character of "El aura" is Esteban Espinosa (Ricardo Darín), an epileptict taxidermist whose favorite pastime is to plan crimes he never carries out. The title of this film makes reference to the specific moments when Esteban knows he is going to suffer an epileptic seizure, something that in his case is triggered by stressful situations. However, and due to the fact that Esteban leads a rather boring life, that doesn't happen a lot.

One day, though, something changes. Esteban's wife leaves him, and, without knowing what to do or what to think, he decides to go hunting to the Patagonian forest.with an acquaintance. That is a strange decision, but things get even weirder when he ends up killing an unlikely prey. The result is a very strange situation that presents him with the unique opportunity of making use of his ability to plan, if he is daring enough to seize the chance.

On the whole, I think that "El aura" is the kind of movie you are likely to enjoy, specially if you are fond of thrillers that don't lack originality. Highly recommended!

Belen Alcat
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on May 21, 2008
I wish we could have had a dozen films or more from director Fabian Bielinsky, but because he died of a heart attack in 2006 at only 46, we have only Nine Queens and The Aura. Ricardo Darin, a veteran Argentine actor, worked in both (so did several others in the cast, I think) and he is superb here as Espinosa, a reclusive, fairly unlikeable taxidermist who has long plotted in his mind the perfect heist. Circumstances give him the chance to make his plots real in the forests and open spaces of Patagonia. He is both drawn to and repelled by the opportunity. He also finds himself less perfect in the execution than in the fantasy. What results is a character study -- as my wife commented, you don't ever really like Espinosa, but you always want him to succeed -- and intricately paced and plotted heist movie. The sometimes beautiful and sometimes desolate setting, the camera work, the acting -- almost every character is trapped in some desperate personal situation -- and Bielinsky's command come together for a unnerving and riveting movie that feels much shorter than its running time of over two hours. Don't miss it.
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on March 10, 2013
I only review movies that I really like. I'm always looking for a good drama that I can get engrossed in and this one fit the bill. The plot was interesting and the acting and dialogue believable. It was a pleasure to watch Ricardo Darin's character develop as the plot unfolded. Some other reviewers complained the movie's pace was slow. I thought the pace was just right - pensive, suspenseful. And the wilderness in which most of the movie was shot was fitting for the protagonist's lonely situation. I really enjoyed this movie, it was very well done.
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on October 8, 2015
Intriguing film, that keep us in suspense for almost two hours. Thought the filming and acting was excellent.
Not sure how I expected it to end but was a little disappointed with that.
Overall though a really good film.
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VINE VOICEon July 17, 2010
I second the guidance I see expressed here in one of the spotlight reviews: don't be put off by the cover image, which represents a very quick passage in the film. Though the fear in 'The Aura' is palpable and threat of death becomes more of a possibility as writer/director Fabián Bielinsky expertly ratchets up the tension, the take of this intelligent movie is for the viewer to imagine the possible consequences.

If you enjoyed Bielinsky teaming with the great Ricardo Darín (El Secreto De Sus Ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes)) in the spectacular Nine Queens (a movie David Mamet might wish he wrote), then you're a slam dunk lock to dig 'The Aura.' This was Bielinksy's last film before he died suddenly of a heart attack in 2006. For fans, he left a filmography that is all too short. 'The Aura' serves as a bittersweet reminder of what might have been.

Another reason to watch: sultry Argentinian actress Dolores Fonzi (as Diana Dietrich). Readers of the Journal of Popular Studies (a.k.a., People magazine) will recognize the name: she's the (erstwhile?) girlfriend of Gael García Bernal and mother (though some are disputing that) of his son, Lázaro.
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on August 17, 2013
A taxidermist turns robber, with little explanation or logic to the shift in "careers". Spoiler alert: he accidentally shoots a man in the woods, after the movie sets him up as someone who has issues with killing (explicitly animals and there is an oblique reference to his bad memories of his military service). But after the shooting he shows no apparent remorse, and instead, adopts the person's identity, lies to his family etc. I found this to be an incredible response to an accidental shooting. No explanation is given. In the final scene when he is being chased by the lead robber, the director has the lead robber do really stupid, and unbelievable stuff so that the main character kills him. In the end, the main character shows no remorse for killing, no remorse for having a friend's father get killed, and no remorse for lying. We are never told what he desires or likes. Notice, the awards this movie received are not by credible commentators on film.
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on June 11, 2014
This film is a classic and if you appreciate foreign films then it is a must see. One noteworthy fact is that the director, Fabián Bielinsky, only directed this film and another amazing film ,Nine Queens. The director passed away in 2006 and so these two incredible films are his legacy. The main character is played by Ricardo Darín, who is also very talented. People who just want to see action will be disappointed because this film is much more than that.
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on July 12, 2008
It's sad Fabián Bielinsky died (young) after making this film because El Aura demonstrates clearly that its director has mastered his domain. There are a few puzzling moments in the script and its characters, but this isn't one of those "Don't go in that room!" thrillers, it's old-school/neo-noir; quietly intense and full of suspense.

Ricardo Darín's peculiarly charactered performance is executed with such subtlety and nuance that it's hard to believe he's acting. The sound design and original score are beautiful, and so perfect for the film, they seem to be growing out of it rather than being imposed upon it. There are times when the lack of any soundtrack is deafening. The droning tensions and lilting piano ennui disappear, punctuating the moments of action with a moribund silence.

Sometimes I complain when a film ends with such ambiguity it appears to be a cop-out. But not here. The ending will make you rethink the journey you were just on but it won't devalue its magnificence. This is one of those rare films where the ride is so engaging that its hard to imagine anything but disappointment merely because it does end.

"Aura" is what doctors use to describe the moment before falling into epileptic seizure. Ricardo Darín's character describes it as a moment of pure freedom. The inevitable is so clear that decisions are impossible, hence ... Freedom. Clarity.
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