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642 Ratings


Directed by Lucrecia Martel
Argentina, Portugal, 2017


Don Diego de Zama is an 18th-century Spanish magistrate eternally languishing in wait for a transfer from the outpost to which he has been relegated. When his last hope of departure comes to naught, Zama joins an expedition to track down Vicuña Porto, a legendary outlaw who may or may not exist.

Our take

Nine years after The Headless Woman, Argentine master Lucrecia Martel returns with this ingenious adaptation of the frenzied first-person novel Zama, brilliantly inserting her own contemporary commentary on masculinity and colonialism. A singular and stupefying, cutting-edge period drama.

Zama Directed by Lucrecia Martel

Awards & Festivals

Venice Film Festival

2017 | Out of Competition

International Film Festival Rotterdam

2018 | Winner: KNF Award

Indiewire Critics' Poll

2017 | Winner: Best 2018 Movies Already Seen

Lucrecia Martel’s adaptation of fellow Argentinean Antonio di Benedetto’s 1956 novel is one of those rare cinematic objects that seems to exist in only glancing relation to the world of movies that surrounds it. Nearly every composition surprises with asymmetries and odd placements of figures.
January 05, 2019
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With her purposely disorienting mise en scène, Martel plunges us into this Beckettian limbo, a surreal satire of miscommunication between the putative ruling class and the natives.
January 02, 2019
These two films [Zama and A Ilha Dos Amores], apart from having communicating channels with each other, besides of their fully exemplifying the concept of mise en scène and of managing to convert sensation in form and vice versa, they also molecularly alter the cells of the organism and expand the perception while watching them.
December 28, 2018
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What are people saying?

  • Duncan Gray's rating of the film Zama

    Like Herzog filtered through Tati, we have an absurdist historical portrait of "the new world", full of tart, frustrated irony. Is it about colonization? An emasculated conqueror? The lives of men and women? The values of an invented country? A mild yes to all four—the final act diffuses more than I'd like, but it builds to a line that sums them up: “I do for you what no one did for me. I say no to your hopes.”

  • El Biffo's rating of the film Zama

    A sumptuous, nuanced and brutal tale of power, bureaucracy, and oppression. A+ for acting, casting, script, production design, costumes, sound design and cinematography (did I leave anything out?). In my opinion, this cements the status of Lucrecia Martel as an auteur of the highest order. I hope it won't be another ten years before we see her next film!

  • Daniel S.'s rating of the film Zama

    **1/2. It seems that for a lot of critics and movie lovers, 'Zama' is the best movie shown in theaters in 2018. Personally, I didn't watch so many 2018 films but I can easily point out 2 or 3 films I like a lot more than this one. That's the problem, 'Zama' may be the best film of 2018 because of its subject, intelligence, colours or I dont know what but it completely lacks what's at the heart of a great movie: Life.

  • Carlos Filipe Freitas's rating of the film Zama

    Filled with situations that mirror the social and racial preconception of the time, this hypnotic tale of punishment and atrocious colonialism is an engrossing experience, likely to be turned into a cult film.

  • Renton47's rating of the film Zama

    Every detail of Zama seems constructed to eschew a history of colonisation that is perpetuated through the acts of depiction and myth-making. Right down to its obvious digital look which often neglects the vistas the still suggests. It is an act of undoing in a way I haven't quite grasped - even at its most oblique (and I read the book!) I was thrilled to be in the fever Martel induces through sound and image.

  • Bilouaustria's rating of the film Zama

    CINEMA, DCP _ Martel herself described this atmospherical work as "a film of science-fiction set in the past". And you can be disturbed by the rhythm or dislike some bits of the screenplay but it still is a superb achievement : look at the work on framing, editing, the off-screen, the sound design, Martel has a very sophisticated and singular vision. She says the sound comes first in her mind, the image later.

  • Loz Loory's rating of the film Zama

    Awe-inspiring in its creation of a complete universe unto itself. Sumptuous cinematography (particularly during the expedition). The anxiety and disorientation of prolonged life in the "New World" is perfectly conveyed through the sound design and acting. Reminiscent of "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" and "Embrace of the Serpent." Best seen on the big screen.

  • OFF_FRAME's rating of the film Zama

    Combine Jauja and Embrace of the Serpent and you will end up quite close to the tonal landscape of Zama. A somnolent, black-humoured and ridiculing look at the life of a languishing magistrate in the colonies of seventeenth century Paraguay. Built with entrancing sound design of the jungle mixed with drones that swarm and hint at the eventual engulfing of Diego de Zama, an outsider on foreign soil. Sublime 4.5 stars

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