Thursday, July 23, 2009

La Cienaga (2001)

Ill-kept swimming pools, bored adolescents, oblivion drinking and oppressive humidity are just some of the issues plaguing two large and chaotic Argentinean families in Lucrecia Martel's gritty depiction of a rather dreadful summer vacation.

Graciela Borges is quite the hoot as Mecha, a spoiled matriarch drama queen who has two hobbies: yelling at the servants and drinking until she literally falls over. Her cousin Tali (Mercedes Moran) and her large brood come for an extended visit, and the two women launch a drunken and harebrained scheme involving a Bolivian shopping trip.

Meanwhile the kids, devoid of any adult supervision, engage in "Lord of the Flies" type anarchic, and potentially dangerous, misadventures. The film has a loose-leaf, improvised feel and offers a revealing glimpse into upper class Argentinean families, albeit ones that have clearly gone to seed. La Cienaga doesn't end so much as simply stops, and is one of those rare films that seems too short.

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