Saturday, December 06, 2008

La Mujer Sin Cabeza (The Headless Woman)

I’m confused after reading critics’ and viewers’ comments as seems that many didn’t understood the movie with some confessing clearly they didn’t, while others mention things that definitively I didn’t saw in the movie, and others say they like it, but not mention a clear reason why.

I loved the movie. Since the very beginning my eyes were glued to the screen with fantastic cinematography, tech specs and a story that in the beginning hits you hard to slowly, very slowly develop into the most incredible situation that I describe as “here, nothing happened” (aquí nada pasó).

The story is simple and complex. Simple because what you see is a woman that takes her eye off the road to reach for her ringing cell phone and a sickening series of thrums that indicates she’s hit something big. She stops, sees “something”, does not come out of the car, composes herself and continues driving only to stop a few miles away, gets out of the car, walks and starts to rain. From that moment you are not really sure if the woman hit her head and has amnesia or simply is in total shock and denial. Later on you will learn what is when abruptly tells her husband about the hit and run. What follows in the simple story you have to see it or I will be writing a lot and spoiling the movie for you.

Complex because slowly with amazing actress expressions a tension is built that tells about the woman silence, doubt, and guilt while living her everyday life doing chores with her very large and close extended family. For the time that I believed she had amnesia, I was shocked to see how close relatives are so involved in their own life that hardly notice that something is happening to her, which is totally true to reality! But what hit me hard is the end that if you do not want to read major spoilers skip the next two paragraphs.

It is impressive how “everything” was erased and how all the emotions felt instantly disappear to be able to continue with “normal” life as if nothing happened. My shock was because there are many terrible events in life that many people has to live like for example wars, dictatorships, civil wars and the like; when those events are over some people to be able to continue with their normal lives just “erase” everything and all the suffering disappears as if never happened. That’s exactly what I saw in this movie and to my surprise that’s what Lucrecia Martel says in one interview that I reproduce here for those that understand Spanish.

Un día ve a un chico caído en un campo de deportes, sus compañeros lo rodean. De pronto, el chico se levanta y sigue jugando. Esa noche ella le dice a su marido que ha matado a alguien en la ruta. Él la acompaña al lugar, pero sólo hay un perro muerto". De allí en más, la protagonista se debatirá por saber qué pasó realmente, una metáfora que Martel asocia a los tiempos de la dictadura. "Cuando entendí que en verdad la película estaba hablando de eso, para mí fue muy angustiante: la complicidad de la sociedad frente a la muerte de otros que consideran fuera de ella por algún motivo". Para leer el articulo completo ir a El País.


Anyway this Lucrecia Martel movie is as good as her two previous movies that totally fascinated me and I wasn’t a bit disappointed with this one. Bravo!

As a movie is simply outstanding with excellent care to details, great framing and compositions, great grayish/coldish cinematography, excellent slow pace that allows you to see everything, many close-ups to get inside the fantastic expressions that María Onetto (Verónica– the woman) flawlessly performs to your amazement, with her almost in every single frame of the whole movie –she is the movie- and her amazing transformation when she dyes her hair!

The movie was in competition for the Golden Palm at the 2008 Cannes and since then has been accumulating honors and accolades like the FIPRESCI Award at the 200 Festival do Rio, was one of the carefully selected films at the 2008 New York fest by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and won the Critics’ Award at the 2008 Lima Latin American Film Festival.

The main character in the movie is a woman, but I do not agree with those that consider the movie as a woman story, no. This is a universal story, the gender of the main character could be female or male and the story works the same, as the story is about society as a conglomerate with human and social behaviors that brands the group and allows them to continue their sometimes questionable existence.

Not for all audiences with most reviews and comments I read telling me that many will see whatever they wish and some not really understanding what’s all about. So, it’s hard to define a natural target for this movie, but my feeling is that if you enjoy great French cinema slice-of-life dramas you will probably enjoy this movie.

Then, some of my known readers (please do not miss reading the article in El País) should know that Lucrecia Martel is one of Pedro Almodovar favorite directors and that says a lot to me and to them. Also, let me remind you that El Deseo co produced the movie.

Big Enjoy!!!

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