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
The Headless Woman moves to the beat of its own drummer, which is Argentinian director Lucrecia Martel, and if one is able to go with it it's quite an existential trip. Existential by which I mean a character's actions have consequences - or, if they don't, there is still the lingering sensation that they do. In this case a woman, Vero (Maria Onetto), hits something (or someone, an animal or a person, most likely a person), but keeps driving on. We don't really know what she hit either as Martel keeps the camera moving away from the person or thing from a great distance. It could be one of the children we see playing in the first scene in the film. Or it could be one of the dogs which Vero's husband or friend or other makes light of. Could be just a gigantic damn pot-hole. Who knows?
The film moves along like an existential parable, or, to put a more apt comparison, Antonioni's L'Avventura. We see something happen early in the film, and the rest of the runtime is spent with a character who keeps trying to face up to what happened, even as the details of the event and what happened slip away and the mundane quality of life takes over once again. We're not directed to the overarching issue of a real 'plot', just little things happening around Vero. She's in a bathroom soon after the accident cleaning herself up and in the background we hear dialog that could be referring to her about an accident, but isn't. She's in a car with someone passing by right where the accident was, and firemen are looking at at a pipe that's clogged (presumably from the storm) to see what it is. Could be anything, could be nothing. Who knows anything?
The Headless Woman is not for the impatient; even at 87 minutes it can be tiresome to see nothing exactly "happen" except a middle-aged woman with distinctly frizzy blonde hair (helping to also make an incredible poster image) quietly fretting about what happened, while her family and friends continue on with whatever is they do in their sort of bourgeois existence, and she goes back to work as a dentist. It's safe to say even I got a little fidgety at times. But I was never really bored, and her performance Onetto's performance kept me going even when the mundane took over. What happens when there are no consequences, Martel might be asking? Can one wipe away something like a hit-and-run when there's little left of evidence as to what was or wasn't there? It becomes a minor issue as the film goes on, being almost nothing in the last ten minutes.
But the film itself matters because it's finely shot (the cinematographer should have gotten all the awards he could get for his subtle and carefully haunted lighting and framing), and the tone is so assured. This is a mature film dealing with a subject that seems like what it is, a situation. A niche film that, when it works, is brilliant, and when it doesn't still looks pretty. Like Antonioni.
7 of 13 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this