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film

Lucrecia Martel’s The Headless Woman

ONE OF THE GREAT FILMS of the decade, Lucrecia Martel’s The Headless Woman induces a mesmeric state akin to that of its dazed eponym, tempting the audience to drift, like her, through the narrative’s proliferating mysteries. Trance film, ghost story, and political allegory, the impossibly dense and allusive Headless inlays every image with enigma so that its simple tale of a woman seized by the belief that she has committed a crime takes on an air of epistemological riddle. The film shares with Antonioni a modernist concern with the tenuousness of perception, its central conundrum reminiscent of Blow-Up’s, its traumatized heroine, like Monica Vitti in Red Desert, anxiously wandering a once-familiar world whose features have become unfixed.

How came she to lose her head? As in Martel’s previous two features—La ciénaga (The Swamp, 2001) and La niña santa (The Holy Girl, 2004), which, with

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