OTB#62: La Ciénaga

Oh yeah — I’ve seen one of Martel’s later movies, La mujer sin cabeza. Which is great.

I wonder whether Martel is a Herzog fan — this movie has a high (animal) body count. For the first scene, they apparently pushed a cow down into a swamp, let some dogs nip at it, and let it die there?

Well, I’m not really loving this so far. There’s some fabulous shots here, but it just seems really unfocused.

That’s the list of directors that voted for this movie…

Not as popular with the critics.

I think they’re trying to say that it’s quite warm.


In a way, this reminds me of Éric Rohmer — it’s not at all clear what it’s going to be about, and instead it’s just (attractive) people talking to each other about trivial things. But Rohmer has this trick he does — he makes the vague proceedings suddenly cohere into something really exciting.

This could also end up doing that, but we’re halfway through already…

Oh, and Rohmer isn’t on the Top 100 at all? Well, he’s done a whole lot of movies, none of the movies really stand out above the rest, so I guess there could be a whole lot of votes for different movies?

Hm… I’d guess Le rayon vert is the most striking film og his, perhaps…

Hah! It’s number 225 on the critics’ list (and there are no other of his films on the list).

It seems like everybody in the family is getting hurt in this movie… Extra teeth, glass eyes, cuts, incest, alcoholism, etc. It’s almost as it’s all symbolic or something!!!

(Very subtle I’m sure.)

Well, I don’t know. It’s obvious that Martel is talented (which is no surprise after watching that cabeza movie), and that a lot of thought has gone into this movie. Perhaps too much thought, though? It feels both overdone and vague at the same time. And, no, there’s no Rohmeresque development — the movie starts off saying “hey, the Argentinian bourgeoisie is pretty bourgeois” and by the end of the movie, it’s saying “hey, the Argentinian bourgeoisie is pretty bourgeois!”.

I’m totally open to me being totally wrong and this being ingenious, but I’m going with:

The Swamp. Lucrecia Martel. 2001.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best 2022 series.

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