The fate of the sick and elderly at the hands of a system is a storyline that becomes more upsetting the older you - and those close to you - get. Winner in the 'Un Certain Regard' category at last year's Cannes Film Festival, Romanian director Cristi Puiu's second film won't put anyone in a better mood, but in terms of social filmmaking it's very memorable.

Widower Dante Lazarescu (Fiscuteanu) is 61-years-old. He drinks too much, eats the wrong things and only has his cats for company. He starts to feel sick - headaches and pains in his stomach - and telephones for an ambulance. Some time later it arrives with nurse Miora (Gheorghiu) on board. But getting a diagnosis will take far longer than either patient or nurse can envisage: there has been a major road accident in Bucharest and Mr Lazarescu is very low down the list of priorities.

Puiu's film plays like a documentary and you have to constantly remind yourself that there are actors and a script involved. In keeping with its subject matter, and ever increasing circles of bureaucratic hell and indifference, 'The Death of Mr Lazarescu' moves very slowly, and that is its biggest failing, but arguably one the film needed to make its point. By the close you'll be both angered and drained - Puiu's central question about why we all can't care just a bit more about those around us one that needs to be asked far more often in cinema. And of ourselves too.

Harry Guerin