Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Headless Woman (2008)

The Headless Woman
Directed by Lucrecia Martel
Starring: Maria Onetto, César Bordón, Claudia Cantero, Inés Efron
Grade: B

“The Headless Woman” would be a near-masterpiece if it were not for the opaqueness of its central mystery, which partly feels like a deliberate attempt to preserve that mystery, but also reads as a sheepish move by Martel to answer as few questions as possible without the entire thing seeming like a wasted exercise. “The Headless Woman” isn’t a waste; it’s a great character study about a woman that could be any one of us, and the actions of Onetto’s deathly driver feel wholly identifiable given the situation. A story that could have been driven to melodramatic depths of conspiracy and punishment in the hands of a less sensitive filmmaker is handled shrewdly and not without power; a distant shot of an unidentifiable person or object on a road is harrowing, and certainly a contender for best single shot of 2008. Yet it’s strange that, despite all of its successes, the biggest feeling “The Headless Woman” left me with was the lingering lament of what the film might have been had it probed a little further.

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