The Aura

Subtle but consistently compelling thriller about a glum, epileptic taxidermist (Ricardo Darín) who, during a freak accident while hunting that brings to mind Michelangelo Antonioni's The Passenger, forges a new identity for himself: that of an assistant to a hunting lodge owner who, it turns out, is also something of a professional thief.

The plot – in which the undercover taxidermist finds himself amongst a group of tough crooks setting out to rob a casino – is deliberately paced, but it moves seamlessly, like precision clockwork, with nary a wasted moment or plot point.

Writer/director Bielinsky is a major talent, or I should say he "was": Bielinsky died, unexpectedly, in 2006 at the age of 47, shortly after completing The Aura. His only other feature was the widely acclaimed art house hit Nine Queens, which most critics seem to prefer to this otherwise well-received successor. Not having seen Nine Queens yet, I can only review The Aura on its own merits, which are many. An existentialist caper film with a fascinatingly opaque protagonist (played very well by the poker-faced Darín; the rest of the cast is great too), a gripping story, and a slick but never overbearing visual style, The Aura is definitely worth seeking out.