“Are you still feeling nauseous?”
“I’m feeling melancholy.”

Right off the bat I’m regretting the decision to finally watch the 2.5-hour Romanian movie about the slow death of an old drunk due to failures in the national health care system. One of the top ten most critically acclaimed films of the decade or not, the DVD subtitles are blocky white with a light purple filling, the not-quite-static handheld camerawork is irritating, and the first 50 minutes are set inside Laz’s underlit apartment. I hope with the success of this movie, the director can afford a tripod.

It definitely gets better. Once they get to the ambulance/hospital(s), the handheld camera has some reason to exist, panning in response to characters and situations, like a dopey, late-night In The Loop. The paramedic who first picks up Laz feels responsible for him, wheels him from one condescending doctor to another, waiting in long lines for the use of scanning equipment and dealing with overcrowded emergency rooms and surly staff. Laz has a “subdural hematoma” (a brain cloud) and his condition rapidly and seriously worsens over the course of the night, until he can barely speak or control himself.

Seemed like a useful movie, but I’m not seeing the great work of art within. I preferred The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein as far as rambling 2.5-hour politically-charged budget-shot best-of-decade picks go. It made me angry towards the end, so there’s that, and I was pleased at the beginning that Laz and his neighbors are allowed some intelligence (not a given for movies about poor people). An article I can’t find right now says any Romanian would realize that all the times hospital personnel ask if Laz has any family with him, they are looking for a bribe, and the director says the movie is about the love of your fellow man.