La Ciénaga (The Swamp)
Lucrecia Martel, Argentina
2001, 4k/Wanda Visión/Code Red/Cuatro Cabezas/TSP
103 minutes, Spanish with English subtitles
LATAMROB rating: ***
IN THE background of Lucrecia Martel’s debut feature is the rumbling storm that was by then engulfing her native Argentina, presaging through the story of two provincial families a country on the verge of crisis. It was a well received examination of how bourgeois inertia and irresponsibility can foster violent tension, and seems to have had a clarity of message subsequently lost in the more complex psychological detours of this director’s later work (La Niña Santa and, more recently, La Mujer Sin Cabeza).
At the time it evoked references to Chekhov. No surprise, perhaps, that he made no apologies for the difficulties his writing technique posed to readers. Martel has obviously taken to heart the notion that the role of an artist is to ask questions, not to answer them. – GJ