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.
Martel’s masterpiece. It contains what is perhaps the most sensitive placement of people inside the frame. Dialogue is secondary; nowhere is the friction between characters expressed better than on their faces and movements to and away from each other. Cassavetes and Dreyer would have been proud.
I was blown away by the unimpeachable excellence of Martel's subsequent two features, but it took seeing her debut feature to make me realize that she is one of the finest artists working today in any medium. I was absolutely floored. I can honestly not think of a greater debut in cinema ever. And it does exactly what any great debut does: it faultlessly discovers a way.