NYFF ‘05: THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU The film that ignited the much-discussed Romanian New Wave, Cristi Puiu’s extraordinary second feature traces the odyssey of one Dante Remus Lazarescu as he journeys through a public health system that closely resembles the nine circles of hell. It begins when the elderly. Lazarescu (the great Romanian stage actor Ion Fiscuteanu) feels unwell and calls for an ambulance, which never comes. So he calls again, and waits some more, until finally the paramedics arrive—and the real trouble begins. As the night wears on and his condition deteriorates, alone but for the kindness of the occasional stranger (like the ambulance nurse Mioara, brilliantly played by Luminiţa Gheorghiu), he journeys from hospital to hospital, encountering overcrowded emergency rooms and overly officious physicians and discovering that all patients, regardless of what ails them, are uniformly bandaged up in red tape. Striking a delicate balance between gripping medical thriller and scabrous institutional satire, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu is ultimately an absurdly funny and unbearably tragic snapshot of the human condition.