films seen
average score
Argentina - 57 years old
Alive and kicking
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The Swamp

La Ciénaga
2001 / 103m - Argentina
Comedy, Drama
The Swamp poster

A breakthrough film for Lucrecia Martel. After years of making short films and documentaries, she finally got her chance to make a feature film. It's a pretty interesting look at an Argentinian family, in Martel's typical, somewhat detached, but equally captivating style, though still somewhat heavy on the drama.

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A family is visiting La Ciénaga, a somewhat treacherous domain in the north of Argentina. The place they're staying at is a dump, and when Mecha, the mother of family, lands herself on some broken glass, it appears the vacation is doomed. Things get even more crowded and chaotic where her niece Tali decides to visit.

Martel's style is rather interesting, as there's a lot of "show, don't tell" going on. The framing is nice, the location is pretty cool too. There's no real goal the film works towards, it feels more like a selection of smaller vignettes bundled in a convenient story, but that does help to keep things interesting. I'm still not entirely on board with Martel's style, but this was pretty solid.

The Holy Girl

La Niña Santa
2004 / 106m - Argentina
The Holy Girl poster

I've been checking out some of Lucrecia Martel's most lauded films these past few years, and while she isn't even close to a favorite of mine, her films do have a clear and unique style and rhythm to them, which isn't without merit. I will say though that I feel her older work is slightly more interesting.

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Helena runs a slightly rundown hotel, which is home to a large group of doctors for their yearly congress. She fancies Jano, but he already has his mind set on Helena's daughter Amelia. Amelia is a decent young girl though, and she takes it upon herself to try and save Jano's soul.

The Holy Girls is a relatively basic arthouse drama. The performances are decent and the editing and camera work give the film its own flow, but the cinematography is pretty basic and the characters weren't all that interesting, neither was the drama set up between them. Decent, but not that notable.

The Headless Woman

La Mujer Sin Cabeza
2008 / 87m - Argentina
Drama, Mystery
The Headless Woman poster

Martel didn't make it easy on herself when she directed The Headless Woman. She takes a very basic and predictable movie plot and tries to make it relatable on a realistic level. For that to work, the characters have to transcend the film. That never quite happened, so instead, we're stuck with an artsy flick that reiterates a very standard plot.

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Driving home, Vero is distracted for just a second. Right at that moment she hits something. Looking back she sees the contours of a dog lying on the road, but once home she starts to doubt herself. The more time passes, the more Vero is convinced that she might have hit an actual person.

The film is very slow and most scenes are pretty banal, but since we're experiencing Vero's uncertainty as she tries to move on with her life, that pacing is warranted. It works up until a certain point, but the artsy (though surprisingly unattractive) camera work and the tight focus kept reminding me I was watching a film. This could've been pretty interesting, Martel's gamble just doesn't pay off. The result is quite mediocre.


2017 / 115m - Argentina
Zama poster

I haven't seen too many Argentinian period pieces/costume dramas yet, so I was quite interested to see how Zama would pan out. It's not a genre I tend to respond well to. Zama certainly wasn't the worst I've seen so far, but the film does very little to stray from the template and offers little more than dry character drama.

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Zama is a Spanish officer who is stationed in Asunción. He is tired of the place and wants a transfer to Buenos Aires, but for that he has to get approval from the king. A letter should be under way, but as long as the letter isn't in his hands, he has to make sure he doesn't make any mistakes.

It's nice to see a different setting for a costume drama for a change, but other than that, there wasn't much here that caught my attention. The cinematography is crisp but unadventurous, the soundtrack is mediocre and the characters too plain. Very basic drama that doesn't engage and overstays its welcome.