“The Death of Mr. Lazarescu”

Death of Mr.

By Jae-Ha Kim
Amazon.com
September 14, 2006

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.

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