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The Death of Mr. Lazarescu

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Romanian film that won the Un Certain Regard in Cannes, is a true-to-life drama/dark comedy of an elderly man, alone in the world and in search of medical care. Mr. Lazarescu gets shuttled from doctor to doctor, from hospital to hospital, encountering all the good and bad the medical system has to offer. Though it doesn't sound like a winner, this film rates a very high 8.4 score on the IMDb based on nearly 1,500 votes, with nearly every entry urging readers to see this film. If you have a customer base attuned to foreign films, you might want to give this title a chance.


The Death of Mr. Lazarescu is a sadly funny film that tells the story of an old man whom no one really knows or cares about. When he falls ill and needs medical treatment, he faces a team of busy doctors who are concerned because they have to be, not because they really care. Running just over 2-1/2 hours, this Romanian film allows the viewer to visualize how suffocatingly slow time must seem for Lazarescu (Ion Fiscuteanu), who isn't expecting the best treatment--just any treatment would be nice. With the exception of a conscientious paramedic, there doesn't seem to be much concern whether he lives or dies. TV viewers have been weaned on medical dramas such as ER, Chicago Hope, and House--all of which depict physicians who will go to all lengths to cure their patients. While noble and entertaining, these series probably offer less realism than The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, in which lack of funds and staff don't allow time for suitable bedside manner. No one is vilified, not even some of the hospital staff that is disgusted by the side effects of their patients' illnesses. The story is well told in a humane and mesmerizing manner that yanks at the heartstrings while still eliciting a laugh or two. --Jae-Ha Kim

Special Features

  • Interview with the director
  • Perspective on the U.S. Healthcare System by Dr. Fred Berlin

Product Details

  • Actors: Ion Fiscuteanu, Luminita Gheorghiu, Doru Ana, Dorian Boguta, Dana Dogaru
  • Directors: Cristi Puiu
  • Writers: Cristi Puiu, Razvan Radulescu
  • Producers: Alexandru Munteanu, Anca Puiu, Bobby Paunescu
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Romanian (Dolby Digital 5.1), Romanian (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: September 12, 2006
  • Run Time: 150 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,005 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

He calls the ambulance several times, but no one shows.
"Rocky Raccoon"
It shows how inhumane, cold and uncaring people can be who have no sense of responsibility or accountability to the patient.
Erika Borsos
See, if you stick to what you know, others will not only follow, but relate.
Alex Udvary

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Roland E. Zwick on January 13, 2007
Format: DVD

The Romanian film "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu" is a 147-minute fictional drama that plays out almost entirely in what documentary filmmakers like to refer to as "real time." Lazarescu is a 62-year-old widower who lives with his three beloved cats in a rundown apartment in Bucharest. Even though he had an operation for a stomach ulcer 14 years earlier, Lazarescu still drinks excessively, perhaps as a means of assuaging his loneliness or perhaps because he is simply an alcoholic. As the movie begins, Lazarescu is suffering from a severe headache, stomach pains and vomiting, so he calls for an ambulance to come and take him to the hospital. The movie is a slice-of-life chronicle of that trip.

This is all the "story" director Cristi Puiu provides us with as we see Lazarescu being shuffled from one hospital and emergency room to another by a compassionate middle-aged paramedic named Mioara. Puiu clearly has some sharp things to say about the care - or in some cases, LACK of care - Lazarescu receives at the hands of a medical system that is overstretched and undermanned, filled with doctors who are often petty and ill-tempered towards not only their patients but even the paramedics whom the doctors perceive as being clearly "beneath" them in training and knowledge (the irony is that Mioara is more accurate in her diagnosis of the patient than a number of the doctors who examine him). However, Puiu also shows us doctors and nurses who perform their jobs admirably and treat the ill with kindness. Actually, the best thing about "The Death of Lazarescu" is that it observes without judgment. We really feel as if we are seeing life unfolding in front of us without so much as a trace of phoniness, melodramatics or theatricality to dilute the vision.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Alex Udvary on September 20, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Poor Mr. Lazarescu. His head has been aching all day, he's been vomitting and yet no one will help him. He's called the ambulance twice, and it has taken forever for it to arrive. He's even visited his neighbors to ask them if they have any painkillers, but, they seem a little annoyed. Not to mention his brother-in-law is hounding him about money he owes him.

This is pretty much the set-up to Cristi Puiu's "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu". And the title gives away the ending, so, we are only left with the middle.

"The Death of Mr. Lazarescu" is one of the first, if not the first Romanian film to receive huge international fame and actually be released in America in recent times.

Ever since the fall of Communism in Romania the country has struggled trying to find its voice. Strickly speaking about their films (we won't even dwell in their politics) they seem to be drawn towards dark, cynical comedies that they think will appeal to western audience (namely Americans). But, Romanian humor is hard for Americans to digest. Most people do not understand our Eastern European humor. Because of this these films have either, not been released in this country or have not gained much cross-over audience appeal.

The solution, of course, is easy. Romanians have to make films that are personal to them, not worry about what will appeal to Westerns. Now that Communism is over, why not make films dealing with life under its rule? Romanians could make human drama dealing with people and how life has changed since Communism's fall. Some films have attempted to do this, but with that dark humor.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Aneta Tudor on January 15, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The movie is a powerful, insightful description of the corrupt health system in the today ex-comunist

Romania. Sometimes tragic-comic, bitter and accurate, sad and funny, the movie brings a realisticly rude

picture of the faulty medical care in the Romanian hospitals. The director captured perfectly the atmosphere

in the ER, ambulances and the encounter with the medical staff. Excelently acted!

***** rate.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 11, 2007
Format: DVD
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, 2005)

When, at the end of a film, you are pounding on things, throwing things across the room, and yelling how you're going to fly across the ocean and strangle the director, there is one inescapable conclusion to be reached: that film has done its job, and admirably. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu does just that, though there is nothing at all admirable about the film itself; that is one of the sources of its power.

Lazarescu (Ion Fiscuteanu) is a sixty-two-year-old widower living in squalor with three cats. He gets up one morning with a headache, to which a stomachache is later added. Self-medication doesn't work, so he calls the hospital and asks them to send an ambulance. Thus begins a six-hour trip through the Romanian socialized health system that is absurd, outrageous, and all too plausible. Things are complicated by a massive bus crash that has every ER in Bucharest overflowing. Lazarescu's only champion is Mioara (Code Inconnu's Luminita Gheorghiou), the paramedic who originally came to pick him up.

It is all too easy to fall into identifying with Lazarescu and Mioara here, and Puiu has certainly given us some characters who embody everything that is horrible about medical care; I can't imagine anyone watching this movie and not watching to perform some amateur brain surgery on a couple of these doctors. I'm not sure, however, that that was the entirety of Puiu's intention here. If he's wanted to create a one-dimensional screed against the Romanian health care system, he'd have made it, well, a lot more one-dimensional.
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