“It’s all in the timing.”
In the Argentinean film, The Aura taxidermist Esteban Espinosa (Ricardo Darin) is a quiet solitary man who suffers from epilepsy. He describes the period that occurs before an epileptic fit begins, and notes that everything is calm and clear and “there’s nothing left to decide.” Watching Espinosa preparing the corpses of animals convinces the viewer of several things–he’s odd, and he’s meticulous. But then it’s revealed that Espinosa is obsessed with crime. It’s a hobby of sorts. He collects newspaper clippings of crimes, and he analyses the crucial stages at which the crimes went wrong. He’s convinced that the perfect crime is possible, and it’s a matter of timing and meticulous planning. But this is all speculation until Espinosa finds himself inadvertently mixed up in a heist.
After going on a hunting trip to a remote area of the country, Espinosa stays at a primitive resort owned by hunter Dietrich and his wife Diana (Dolores Fonzi). Events place a well-calculated crime at Espinosa’s feet. The question becomes: will he view this as an opportunity, or will he hesitate and back off? It’s one thing to be an armchair crime buff who nurses secret fantasies of the perfect crime, but it’s another thing indeed to leap into some sort of alter ego mode and hold one’s own with seasoned armed thugs. Espinosa’s incongruous fantasies about crime could just be a symptom of a desire for excitement and notoriety, yet excitement always brings the threat of a seizure. Espinosa, calm and introspective, is a peculiar man, full of contrasts. He is opposed to hunting and killing, yet is persuaded to do just that by a man he doesn’t particularly like. He’s different from most of the other brutish, bullying male characters in the film. But does he secretly wish to emulate their aggression? And in this case, a crime might provide the perfect opportunity. Or when push comes to shove will Espinosa cringe at deliberate, directed violence and discover the hard way that crime is more than just a matter of timing and planning?
Directed by Fabian Bielinsky (Nine Queens), The Aura is a moody, beautiful film. Colours are washed out, so Espinosa’s quiet, unemotional world is full of various shades of steely greys and blues. Ricardo Darin, who dominates the film, is a phenomenal mood actor, and this has to be one of his best performances. If you like neo-noir, heist films, or you are a fan of Ricardo Darin, then chances are that you’ll enjoy The Aura. Director Bielinsky died in 2006, and this is tragically, his last film. DVD extras include behind-the-scenes footage and the trailer. In Spanish with subtitles.