The Headless Woman (2008)

LUCRECIA MARTEL

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  

Original title:  La Mujer Sin Cabeza

Argentina/France/Italy/Spain, 2008.  Aquafilms, El Deseo, R&C Produzioni, Slot Machine, Teodora Film.  Screenplay by Lucrecia Martel.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , , , , , , , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

While driving on a rough country road, a well-to-do Buenos Aires dentist () goes to answer her cell phone and, in the split second that she isn’t paying attention, hits something but doesn’t know what. Immediately dazed by the bump from the incident, she drives off and leaves her victim behind, thrust into a perplexed state of confusion for much of the rest of the film. When she begins to face the possibility that she hit a child and not a dog, she confesses her fears to her husband and to other family members, all of whom convince her that she has nothing to worry about. The mysterious death of a local boy in the area where she had her accident doesn’t help alleviate her concern, but her every move towards looking further into the matter is blocked by obstacles; whatever this woman’s concern is for what she has done, it’s possible the guilt doesn’t run very deep. This obscure, enigmatic drama by Lucrecia Martel will be fascinating for some and frustrating for others, as she subtly makes judgments about Argentinean class structure and even brings in references to the country’s spotty history in the seventies that will go well over the heads of anyone completely unfamiliar with either. The talent she has shown for stunning images with profound depth in earlier films like The Holy Girl are well in evidence, however; a scene as simple as Onetto’s accident has immense emotional impact thanks to the superb direction and the actress’s phenomenal performance.

Cannes Film Festival:  In Competition

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