Based on Argentine wriiter Antonio di Benedetto’s 1956 novel, the story is set in an unnamed Latin American country in 1790, and follows Don Diego de Zama, an official for the Spanish crown on his way to Buenos Aires.
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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!
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
Magical surrealism as I'd never seen on film. Damned circumstance and the stillness of everything, despite the passing of the days. Nadie escribe al coronel. Zama, at the border, invents his own reality, Vicuña Porto invents his own name, the corregedor invents his war trophies, we invent our superstitions. Everything is magical, and everything is death.
A fundamental component of the practice of art-making (it is definitely a thing at which one practices) is developing and carrying out ideas regarding how to accomplish effects. Martel is a giant when it comes to devising audio-visual means. ZAMA is a masterpiece of the highest order. Having read the novel recently, I can say that decisions Martel makes in her adaptation consistently speak to nothing short of genius.
Un viaje espiralado hacia la demencia de la espera. Lo que queda de un hombre luego de que la esperanza lo carcome hasta convertirlo en otro, hasta mutar una vez más en otra cosa y empezar a caer de nuevo. Zama es la historia de un cuerpo que intante resistir, una fantasía colonial, una fiebre contagiosa. Martel, más que nunca, hace del sonido un aliado único para hacer de esta película un verdadero estado mental.