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The Headless Woman (La mujer sin cabeza, Argentina 2008), a complex and exquisite film reflecting on contemporary class relations by focusing on a bourgeois woman who may have been involved in a hit-and-run accident, directed by Lucrecia Martel, a major figure in contemporary Argentine cinema.

A well-to-do woman’s refusal to accept the consequences of a hit-and-run accident that may have left an indigenous boy dead is the basis of this haunting, intensely subjective portrait. Vero, an elegant middle-aged white woman, is returning home along a deserted highway. Taking her eyes off of the dusty road for a moment, a collision brings the car to a violent halt. Shaken, but not seriously injured, she gathers herself before deciding to drive off without investigating what is left behind. She flees, attempting to evade both the authorities and her own guilt by doing her best to ignore, deny and ultimately forget what she has done. But what follows is less a Dostoyevskian meditation on a tortured conscience than an Antonionian study of bourgeois solipsism through the actions of a woman at wit’s end. The Headless Woman, the final film in acclaimed Argentine auteur Lucrecia Martel’s Salta trilogy (La Ciénaga; The Holy Girl, SFIFF 2004), subtly explores the relationship between a confused, depraved upper class and the marginalized, largely indigenous working class to which it is contemptuous or downright oblivious. Martel’s distinctive, sensual style of filmmaking combines careful sound design with strikingly oblique compositions to create a superbly disquieting and immersive film.

Written by Lucrecia Martel. Photographed by Bárbara Álvarez. With María Onetto, César Bordón, Daniel Genoud. In Spanish with English subtitles. 92 min. Distributed by Strand Releasing.

Added by cinesoul on August 26, 2009