“The Aura” is a Spanish film, subtitled in English, that centers around an enigmatic taxidermist who is played by Ricardo Darin. Darin, whose heavily lined face is reminiscent of the aging Bob Dylan, delivers a staid and pensive performance.
The movie follows Darin, whose character is unnamed (he appears in the credits as The Taxidermist), as he stumbles upon a dead criminal’s plan to hijack an armored car full of cash.
The movie is quite long, running for over two hours, and most of the first half of the movie drags on excruciatingly: the first part of the movie has a distinctly somnolent effect. The film’s look has a washed out and pale color palette that is made even more bleak by the quiet, classical music that punctuates the film.
The taxidermist begins the movie as a sheepish man. His powers of observation are immense and his mental recall is equally impressive, but he is unable get up the gumption for the easy criminal opportunities he sees around him.
The most compelling scene in the first part of the movie has the taxidermist in line at a bank where he demonstrates his mental and criminal prowess by narrating a detailed heist plan.
In a style not unlike the smooth criminality of “Ocean’s 11,” the heist occurs around him just as he is explaining it to very satisfying cinematic effect.
The action of the film picks up when the taxidermist embarks on the hunting vacation that leads him to the heist plan, which he practically lifts from the lifeless body of its creator.
The crime that adds welcomed suspense to the film occurs in the Spanish countryside. That environment provides some material for the camera that is arresting to the eye and more conducive to Darin’s lone-wolf taxidermist; in fact, wolf imagery is critical to that character who makes a steady descent into violence and crime.
The taxidermist begins to seamlessly integrate himself into a dangerous hijacking by using his photographic memory and totally inscrutable poker face. Darin glowers his way to the bottom of this caper’s rabbit hole in distinctly dour and menacing, film noir, style. In this way, the taxidermist vicariously satisfies his criminal tendencies, until the time comes for him to jump into the execution of the actual crime and his mettle is tested.
The film’s title, “The Aura,” is derived from the taxidermist’s description of his epileptic seizures. He describes a moment of heightened awareness and paralysis that precedes each of his seizures. He describes becoming calm and certain because of the inevitability of the seizures.
The taxidermist’s moment of clarity recurs in the movie’s final moments, but, rather than preceding a seizure, it is the moment when he must decide whether or not to take another human life.
With its thrills that are only just worth it, its mild suspense and a basically satisfying final fire fight, this long running and bland film is not able to deliver.
Kiebutz is a member of the class of 2009.