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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

LA MUJER SIN CABEZA / THE HEADLESS WOMAN (2008)

Argentinian filmmaker Lucrecia Martel tries for the untouchable in this enigmatic film about a middle-class/middle-aged woman who hits something more than a bump while driving home. Pulling over, she’s too dazed & upset to check on things, so continues on her way. Later, after being checked for concussion, she seems not quite herself, barely responding to friends or relatives and sloughing off at work. But now she’s fixated on the event, convinced she’s killed someone, an idea buttressed when a lower-class teen is discovered drowned in the canal near the incident. Martel is careful to only indicate possibilities or likelihoods, keeping everything slightly off-kilter with purposefully misframed shots (usually a bit too close) designed to miss a key piece of info; or with fog-like inadequate lighting. At times, she’ll play out an entire scene from the reverse-angle without letting us see the opposing primary shot we expect to begin with. It’s often effective, she’s an obvious talent, but the story might work better as a half-hour anthology show episode, at feature length, it palls. Intriguing suppositions and mild reverberations of class entitlement carry us only so far. And did Martel really think it was a good idea to burden her film with a misleading horror pic title or to literally shoot the final scene Thru A Glass Darkly?

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