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
emotionally detached account of a woman's response to tragedy
In the minimalist Argentine drama "The Headless Woman," a distracted motorist (ah those damn cell phones!) runs over something - a dog? a person? - on a deserted country road, but rather than stop and deal with the consequences of what she has done, she continues on her way, never quite sure of who or what it was she actually hit. The movie then goes on to chronicle the woman's emotional and psychological response to the accident, as she endeavors in vain to re-establish the patterns and routines of her daily life, wracked with guilt over the part she played in the tragedy. Or is she?
"The Headless Woman" is a challenging film in that it steadfastly refuses to go for the obvious in its narrative choices. It can be frustrating to watch at times because the main character, Vero, keeps so much of her thoughts and feelings bottled up inside her that it is left up to us to try and figure out what is really taking place behind that nearly perpetual deer-in-the-headlights expression she displays to the world. On the surface, Vero is a successful dentist with two grown kids, a critically ill mother whom she helps care for, and a husband for whom any real feelings would appear to have long ago been extinguished. Yet, because she is given barely a word of dialogue to speak throughout the course of the movie, the marvelously stoic Maria Onetto is forced to rely almost exclusively on the subtlest of body language and facial tics to create a character of tremendous mystery and depth. The barest quiver of the mouth, the slightest twitch fluttering across an otherwise soporifically placid face - this is where the true drama of "The Headless Woman" plays itself out. For, indeed, in "The Headless Woman," the things that are NOT said carry far more weight, thematically and psychologically, than the things that are. And, unlike in the vast majority of movies, the drama derives not so much from a densely plotted narrative as from a scrupulously detached and nonjudgmental observation of human activity and behavior. Indeed, the plot becomes barely incidental to the accumulation of detail that writer/director Lucretia Martel uses for her art.
Indeed, if this were an American film on the same subject, I suspect that there would be plenty of introspective soul-baring, angst-ridden chest-beating and Simple Simon lesson-learning to go along with the tragedy. But Martel is in no way interested in any of that. In fact, one of the beauties of the film is that it refuses to cater to our own expectations of how we feel a person - and, by extension, we ourselves - would or should react in such a situation. And it is that unconventionality that keeps us emotionally off-balanced for the duration of the story. We want to make a moral judgment against this woman but the author steadfastly refuses to give us that opportunity. Martel's concern is simply to tell this one woman's story in the sparest way possible and then let the audience come to its own conclusion about what, if anything, it all "means."
Thus, with its oblique style, enigmatic characters, and inconclusive ending, "The Headless Woman" is not a movie all people will be able to get into, but those who do are not likely to forget the experience.
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