Chekhov in contemporary Argentina. Mecha and Gregorio are at their rundown country place near La Ciénaga with their teen children. It’s hot. The adults drink constantly; Mecha cuts herself, engendering a trip to the hospital and a visit from her son José. A cousin, Tali, brings her children. The kids are on their own, sunbathing by the filthy pool, dancing in town, running in the hills with shotguns, driving cars without licenses. One of the teen girls loves Isabel, a family servant constantly accused of stealing. Mother and son, son and sisters, teen and Isabel are in each other’s beds and bathrooms with a creepy intimacy. With no adults paying attention, who’s at risk? —IMDb
Lucrecia Martel was born in Salta, northern Argentina, in 1966. As a teenager she did a good deal of filming of her large family, but she never suspected she would end up studying filmmaking. In 1986 she moved to Buenos Aires to study communication. She made a few short films, among them Rey Muerto (Dead King) which received several international awards.
Between 1995- 1998 she directed documentaries for television and children’s programs with a dark sense of humor and which were widely acclaimed by the Argentine press. In 1999 she received the Sundance+-/ NHK Filmmakers Award for her script La Cienaga (The Swamp) about families in Northern Argentina. —Filmbug
cuando el proceso de descomposición acelerado por un calor pegajoso, de delirio tropical, es mirado a través de una cámara glacial, surgen películas como ésta. la forma de la ciénaga es algo así como los hielos sobre los que se sirve vino o lo que se prefiera, pero mortal. las emociones vienen amortiguadas. se le mira a la bestia dentro del laberinto pero sólo se ven los damnificados
Marel's debut was a wry Buneulist trip into rural Argentina examining two related families in a claustrophobic and revealing way. A calling card for the director that put her on the international map. One feels the slow passing of time; the heat; the boredom and the strange feeling of family secrets and inapproriate relationships. In the background the question of faith, family and class structure.
The comparison to Cassavetes is totally valid, but let's not forget how much this feels like Bunuel. The family, seemingly trapped inside the compound for most of the film, not able to leave, not able to separate themselves from each other. No one can get out of anybody's way here and it's claustrophobic as all get out. Great, great film.