La Cienega (The Swamp), the solid debut feature from Argentine writer-director Lucrecia Martel, immediately shows the strengths that Martel has continued to develop ever since. Driven by its moody ambiance and ever-present atmospheric sounds, La Cienega flows from moment to moment and scene to scene. The film becomes increasingly overwhelming in its propensity to leave characters, and the audience, wandering for answers: a trait that, up to this point, has defined all of Martel’s underseen and divisive works. Although it is her “weakest” feature in my mind (she has only made three and each one has been better than the last), this is a dynamic debut and showcases an assured, still developing talent. Plus, for those looking a place to start, you might as well start from the beginning and get caught up with this fresh voice in international film.
Note: Martel’s most recent feature “The Headless Woman” was shown at the New York Film Festival and has yet to receive distribution. When/if it does, I will be sure to let everyone know. My take on it and the other big name NYFF movies should be posted Wednesday or Thursday. A wrap up entry with a festival top 5 (or 10) should be posted Saturday or Sunday. Stay tuned!