Veronica is driving in northwestern Argentina when her mobile phone distracts her and she runs over something—but drives on. The police confirm that there was no accident, but Veronica begins to have a meltdown, thinking she may have killed someone. Was it an animal? A child? Or nothing at all?
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A memory-lapse concussion yields one of the 21st century arthouse's more intriguing enigmas: first, an admittedly obvious commentary where a bourgeois woman wanders through her routine in a daze with hardly anybody noticing, and second as a mystery with (just barely) enough plot to hook you in. Easy answers are absent, naturally; Martel's triumph is creating a heroine soulful enough to be both innocent and guilty.
Class and race guilt, rather than warfare, is the name of the game here. A rich seam of shame, not rage, oozes up to feed the film's fugue. Martel counterpoints Veronica's cloudy confusion, which can seem as self-serving (and possibly affected) as her pre-accident ease, with multiple lines of focus and clarity in the lives around her. Like an Argentinian Antonioni, Martel coolly sets alienation against authenticity.
I enjoy how Veronica's distractedness generates a line of futility which does not negate all the exuberant life surrounding her. Martel gets a lot out of these elements working against each other in different ways. And the director is less condescending here than in LA CIÉNAGA. Still, I find her style relentless. Certain formal decisions--her insistence on underlining jarring diagetic sounds-- seem too overstated.
This started well but then completely fizzled out, at least for me. The last few minutes were so anti-climactic it almost seemed like a joke. Martel is clearly a talented filmmaker, though, so I'll watch her other films regardless.
A little bit of class warfare. The performance by María Onetto is incredible. You don't know too much about where her head was before the accident, but the subtle transformation to what she becomes is remarkable.
Pro: Interesting look at a woman's refusal to come to terms with her past. Class structure in Argentina.
Con: Too many 'filler' conversations among Veronica's relatives who come and go while she remains expressionless throughout.
If not a complete masterpiece like her two first films, this doesn't dissapoint at all. Lucrecia moves into a more minimal (narration wise) territory and the results are terrific. Excellent performances.