How often does a person imagine how an event, an experience could’ve turned out in a different way? For the Kid in Armen Ohannesian’s film “The Aura,” it’s second nature. Imagining “what if it happened like this” is a coping mechanism for his epileptic seizures, which he succumbs to when he’s nervous or when he sees bright lights. On the night before his eighteenth birthday, the Kid demonstrates his tendency to replay, or rather redirect, in his mind certain situations. The film opens with the Kid leaning facedown on the counter in a liquor store. His upper body is positioned so that one might think he was sleeping, which is exactly what the Kid’s Stepfather believes. Immediately it is clear that they don’t have a very good relationship. The Kid’s mother is no longer in his life (probably due to death), and his Stepfather has since taken control over the liquor store.
There are only five characters in “The Aura,” and each of them plays a key role in the Kid and the Stepfather’s lives. Director Ohannesian takes the viewer through the fifteen or so minutes that changes their lives. Editor Bill Butler, who worked on Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” (1970), lends his expertise to “The Aura.” A combination of slow and near stop-motion footage illustrates the Kid’s seizures as well as how he re-imagines an event. You can’t help but feel sorry for the Kid, but when the clock strikes midnight you realize he’s smarter than he looks.