An introspective, middle-aged taxidermist given to epileptic seizures (Darn) reluctantly agrees to accompany a friend (Awada) on a hunting trip in the Patagonian forest. Things get off to a bad start: Our anonymous taxidermist, while out tracking a deer, accidentally shoots Dietrich, the owner of the cabin where they’re holed up. He says nothing to the man’s moody young wife, Diana (Fonzi), or her teenage brother, Julio (Biscayart). But in rifling through Dietrich’s shed, he stumbles upon notebooks sketchily outlining a plan to rob the local casino—and sticks around to participate in the caper himself, though it will entail bluffing Dietrich’s skeptical accomplices. Lovers of the heist genre—from Bob le Flambeur to Ocean’s Eleven—already know that nothing goes as planned.
As this synopsis makes evident, The Aura is top-heavy with setup and preamble (did we mention that the taxidermist’s wife has left him, and he falls out with his hunting buddy?). Once the robbery itself is set in motion, the film clicks into a groove (as does the viewer’s attention). But at more than two hours, one wishes director Fabin Bielinsky (Nine Queens), who died earlier this year, had dropped the excess baggage and told the kind of sharp, streamlined crime story he once excelled at. (Opens Fri; IFC Center.) — Tom Beer