La Cienaga | Chicago Reader

La Cienaga

This astonishing 2001 debut by Argentine director Lucrecia Martel (The Holy Girl) manages to sustain tension and anxiety throughout. At their run-down country estate, a middle-aged couple drink away the hot, sticky days, ignoring their bored adolescent children. An accident next to the murky swimming pool sends the mother to her bed, while the other members of the family wander around, taking potshots at dogs and wild animals in the surrounding swamplands or flopping down on unmade beds, oblivious to ringing phones and doorbells and one another. After the mother's cousin arrives from town with her own brood, violence seems not just possible but probable. This has the power of great literature, and it's remarkably assured in its juggling of two large families. Every shot is dense with life, with children and animals running in and out, yet the movie is highly focused, a small masterpiece. In Spanish with subtitles.

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