The Holy Girl (La Nina Santa) ~ (Argentina, 2004) ~ DVD

Argentine director  Lucrecia Martel is a protege of Pedro Almodovar, and it shows. Which is not to say she doesn’t have her own distinctive vision. She does. The story takes place in a family owned hotel, run by a divorced mother and her brother. They get by with loyal employees and the odd convention that passes through. The current one appears  to be a convention of audiologists, specialists in hearing problems.

The mother, Helena (Mercedes Morán) lives at the hotel with her daughter Amalia (María Alche) who goes to the local Catholic school. One day in a crowd, she feels a man pressing up behind her. She and her best friend are at the age that sex is mysterious and intriguing. She doesn’t quite know what to make of this, but feels drawn to the experience. She becomes obsessed and the doctors  attempts to get her to stop following him for fear of exposure. All this is handled with a natural sensibility, in a mature and sensitive manner. Amalia’s mother meanwhile is somewhat taken with the doctor (married) herself. All this plays itself out to an ending which I just loved.

I’m not going to single out any one actor – they all, universally, deliver this movie with such perfect performances, that one is left wondering how this happened. This is extremely rare. If you’re looking for flaws, you won’t find them here. In fact, the total atmosphere of the hotel, the goings on, the dialogue and the staff appears to be just right. All the details, even the minor ones work perfectly

This is the second film I’ve seen recently that features a theremin, an electronic instrument that is activated by just the hands moving in the air. It produces an eerie and unusual sound, but for the life of me I can’t remember what the other one was.


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