Under the creative direction of Gael Garcia Bernal, ten award-winning directors tell the story of the high school dropout crisis in Latin America in an anthology of narrative and ... See full summary »
This film is centered around Vero, an Argentinean bourgeois woman, and how her life slowly twists out of control after she hits something, or someone, with her car. Here comes the incident that changes everything, as Vero is driving, she is distracted by her cell phone and looks down to get to it. By the time she does this, her car hits something but the camera stays in it as we see her car shaking and rattles. Although Vero seems indifferent about the situation, it is clear that it has a toll on it as she acts different from the Vero that we saw briefly at the beginning of the film. She acts clumsy and out of place, barely saying anything, and when she does, it doesn't always make sense or has a lot of substance. This solidifies towards the end of the movie when she is going to retrace her steps to remember her memory, but in the hospital and the Hotel she stayed in, there was no record proving that she was there. This makes the audience wonder if all this really happened or if Vero,...Written by
Martel is quickly becoming a master of her own filmic sensibility, which I might call the "art of eavesdropping cinema," and she makes consummate use of something inherent to the medium to take us inside the characters and content of stories that have almost nothing to do with traditional plot points.
As an audience, we are all eavesdroppers (or voyeurs) when we watch a movie. And Martel's sensibility, or way of telling a story, is not only to provide clues to what she is investigating, but to inform us with what she considers important about it. There is a bit of Hitchcock (Rear Window comes to mind), and certainly some of Altman's audio technique around conversation. There is also an exploration of neurosis that one might liken to Almodovar (her producer), yet without the bold, soap operatic farce. And there is also something of Bergman and Antonioni.
La Mujer Sin Cabeza (while not my favorite of her films) is still a sure step forward as a filmmaker. This is not only her most focused film, but it makes use of a more developed cinematic technique than either of her previous two films. Strangely, it has not been received as well. The problem, I believe, has much to due to the predisposition of most film viewers, who not only lack of patience, but the ability to adjust to a film operating in ways they are not accustomed to.
Martel's narratives may seem disjointed at first, as they jump from one scene to another without obvious connection, but they are extremely well thought out. The problem, as I said, has more to do with confounded viewer expectations, and the inability to adapt to a different approach in cinematic narrative, one that is very appropriate to the content of Martel's design. For the uninitiated, her films benefit from a second viewing, if only because what at first seems insignificant or disconnected is actually very important, and provides access to her dry subtle satire.
The power of "Mujer Sin Cabeza," (as with all films) is grounded in our perceptions of the main character's experience (or our experience of her perceptions), which not only infect us with her mental / emotional state, but draw us into the kind of life that she leads, in the balance, providing us a window into modern day Argentina.
Here, we are also made aware of a social system in the midst of decay, being held together by the ever more twisted and frayed threads of a colonial past that seeks preservation, in spite of increasing moral dysfunction, and the inability to take responsibility for anything that interferes with the social system beyond making it disappear...
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