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The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005)

Ion Fiscuteanu , Luminita Gheorghiu , Cristi Puiu  |  R |  DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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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: #137,290 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu" on IMDb

Special Features

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

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

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars reality come to life on screen January 13, 2007

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
4.0 out of 5 stars Is There A Doctor In The House? September 20, 2006
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
5.0 out of 5 stars The Death of Mr. Lazarescu January 15, 2007
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
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad to the Extreme
I was born in Romania and escaped miraculously from that country some 45 years ago when I was 25. (See, all that at Read more
Published 1 month ago by 4Real
4.0 out of 5 stars Could not happen in America
Since 1986, emergency rooms in the United States have been subject to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, which requires them to provide treatment regardless of... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Larry Benjamin
5.0 out of 5 stars The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
Received as expected. I have never heard of or knew about this DVD before purchase. Someone suggested it to me.
Published 4 months ago by James P. Blankenhorn
3.0 out of 5 stars Great film, awful subtitles on the DVD
I really enjoy this film and decided to pick up a copy of it on DVD. Unfortunately, the color choice for the subtitles - bright blue text with a pixelated white border - is awful,... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Cameron
2.0 out of 5 stars Fooled Again
This was not the worst movie I ever bought and watched.....but almost. Not a comedy by any stretch of the imaginaton. Even the additional stuff was bad. Read more
Published 13 months ago by 3FingerBob
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique Horror-Comedy from Romania
{4.25 stars}

Lonely, retired Mr. Lazarescu becomes ill one night. His neighbors call an ambulance, and he's taken on a bizarre tour of Bucharest's hospitals, each of... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Doug Park
1.0 out of 5 stars Very vey long and annoying
It s true,it really reveals the true Romanian system,but this movie is nothing but comic! Long and boring and annoying......
Published 21 months ago by Teodora Tofana
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing Reality
I'm not certain how this film was labeled a comedy. It's anything but. This film is commentary on the healthcare system in Bucharest, though it's poignancy reflects the problem... Read more
Published on December 14, 2010 by S. K. Harrell
1.0 out of 5 stars ROMANIAN TORTURE.
Published on October 21, 2010 by ben redares
4.0 out of 5 stars Moartea domnului Lazarescu, or, An Old Man Gets Kicked Into the Street...
One of my best and oldest pals is from a prominent Romanian family, and I love and speak the Romanian language. Read more
Published on May 25, 2010 by E. Hernandez
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