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'The Aura'

Taxidermist at gunpoint: Ricardo Darin
IFC Films

The nameless recluse at the center of this noirish thriller, written and directed by the late Argentine filmmaker Fabián Bielinsky ( Nine Queens), is a mass of contradictions. An epileptic taxidermist with a photographic memory, he is so emotionally detached from the world around him that he never smiles and barely speaks, yet he harbors a pronounced superiority complex. He shrinks from guns and hunting but watches impassively as men are shot dead. Convinced he can commit the perfect robbery, the taxidermist takes advantage of a criminal opportunity that soon spirals out of control. A hypnotic unease hangs over the film, due partly to Checco Varese's widescreen lensing, which dwarfs the characters against their bucolic but menacing woodland surroundings; partly to the constant hum of Lucio Godoy's murmuring piano-driven score; and partly to the unsettling central performance of Ricardo Darín as a character both off-putting and sympathetic—and impossible to read.


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