Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Headless Woman ***

Director: Lucrecia Martel
Cast: María Onetto, Claudia Cantero, César Bordón, Daniel Genoud
Inés Efron, María Vaner

Not all blonds have more fun as is the case in Lucrecia Martel's "The Headless Woman". Vero (Onetto) is a middle aged dentist who has just dyed her hair blond.
Her friends and family make a fuss about it as they say their goodbyes after a gathering. Driving back home Vero reaches into her purse to find her ringing cell phone.
She bumps into something, looks to her rear view mirror and sees the carcass of what seems to be a dog.
When she tries to go back to her normal life she's different though. Practically silent, disoriented and walking as if she's under a trance she suddenly begins to think that what she killed wasn't a dog, but a boy.
Martel's tale of lost senses conveys an eeriness that truly gets under your bones as you wonder where exactly is the plot leading us to.
Onetto's performance, which requires her to do a lot of listening, has a zombie like quality to it which works wonders to convey bourgeoisie ennui. Sometimes we don't know whether she's actually listening to the other characters or lost in her own inner world.
This might be precisely what Martel tries to get to with her movie. After the accident we know that something's not well with Vero (the sound design changes, the cinematography constantly hides her face) but her family and friends continue acting as if all's just fine.
In one scene her husband (Bordón) asks her a question, only to answer to himself when she fails to answer quickly enough. Was Vero someone who was barely even there to begin with?
Martel explores the notion of all the things we say when we don't say anything and while the movie tries hard to become a Buñuel-esque satire of middle class values, it works more like an exploration of isolation.
How long does it take others to know we're not doing fine?
When the plot suggests that-because of lack of records-Vero's dilemma might've been an hallucination her detached manner leads us to the disturbing conclusion that maybe only by killing someone would this woman feel alive.

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