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La Niña Santa

September 6, 2010

La Niña Santa (2004)
Director: Lucrecia Martel
Actors: María Alche, Carlos Belloso, Mercedes Moran

Synopsis: Amalia (María Alche) sets about ‘saving the soul’ of a middle-aged doctor she meets in an Argentine hotel.

Review: Though a work in minor key, this is still a fascinating, acutely observed chamber piece, concerning a disparate group of people whose lives cross paths in an Argentine hotel during a medical conference. Director Lucrecia Martel shows a real filmic sensibility, utilising classic neo-realist techniques (use of outside sound, shooting in natural light, non-artificial camera angles) to articulate the almost elliptical state of the narrative. This narrative that appears to have been meandering along for the first hour or so, suddenly bursts into life in its final half-hour as the interior lives and crises of the main characters merge to surprising effect. There is a slight self-consciousness to Martel’s eye at times – such as that arthouse cliché of static, canvas-like long-shots – but there is so much that she gets right, particularly her ability to locate the story cleverly on the fringes of the action and her success in creating a vivid sense of place for the hotel (barely a scene is shot outside). (February 2006)

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