What a glorious face has María Onetto, the star of Lucrecia Martel's newest, THE HEADLESS WOMAN (La mujer sin cabeza). Pictured in the final three photos below, this actress combines a classic, middle-
age beauty with the ability to convey a sense of so much going on underneath
her visage that the resulting performance simply rivets. Just watch as she drives a little too fast along a back road. When the key event happens, that face mirrors it all -- in both minute changes and major I-dont-want-to-deal-with-it drama. Ms Martel (shown at right), who grows in stature (in some ways, at least) with each new movie, knows how best to capture her actress' abilities. Where she places her camera, for how long, how she chooses to move that camera and then edit the results could hardly be improved.
(Her cinematographer and editor here are, respectively, Bárbara Álvarez and Miguel Sverdfinger.)
If the remainder of her new movie kept pace with its first half hour, this would be the writer/director's best in all ways. Unfortunately most of its interest occurs upfront. By the end, I felt as though I'd been there/done that, though I admit to enjoying the being and doing, even second-hand. Part of the reason for my deja vu has to do with The Headless Woman's being so close in locale, feeling and character types to Martel's first international success,The Swamp (La ciénaga), and in the manner in which the satellite ensemble revolves around a main character, as in her sophomore effort The Holy Girl (La niña santa). In all three films Martel nails the anomie of bourgeois Argentine life and how it dissipates character.