July 14, 2005

LA CIENAGA
Lucrecia Martel, 2001

8.5
La Ciénaga has one of the most affectingly moody opening scenes i've ever seen. the sky is clouded over, heavy with impending rain, as characters try to take shelter from the oppressive heat. the film doesn't have a story as much as it follows the lives of this one particular family. the heat. the fucking heat. Martel makes sure you feel its discomfort throughout the entire film. you, as the audience, are not spared one minute from the heat. but - Martel is able to maneuver around alienating her audience with great characters, a amazingly observing eye, and, most importantly, superb performances from her actors. everyone does a brilliant job capturing Martel's naturalistic tone, but it's Mercedes Morán (the imdb informs me that she's in The Motorcycle Diary!!), as Tali, whom i noticed the most. she brought such an alert presence to her character. because of the heat, no one here is ever lively (even the kids crash in between running after each other), and it could easily bring tensions over the boiling point. but i was impressed by the two fathers' loving patience for their kids. it was very touching to see them nonchalantly care for them as much as they did. some characters have more obvious flaws than others, but the actors' performances are so raw and natural that they end up coming across as real people and thus walking that fine line where you just accept them as they are. this was a true find for me. so happy i stumbled onto it. i am definitely gonna be on the lookout for Martel's future projects.

Posted by Sam | 3:05 PM |