Dir: Lucrecia Martel | Argentina, Brazil / 115’ | cast: Daniel Giménez Cacho, Lola Dueñas, Matheus Nachtergaele, Juan Minujín
Argentinian auteuse Lucrecia Martel (The Headless Woman) makes a welcome return with a subtle and sumptuously beguiling fantasy peepshow where a man’s mind unravels in mysterious 18th Paraquay
Tired of waiting for the King to transfer him to his wife in Buenos Aires, an officer of the Spanish Crown embarks on a perilous bid to return to his family while around him his fellow officers scheme and disemble. Based on an adaptation of Antonio Di Benedetto’s 1956 Latin American classic this cinematic soupcon offers creative insight into Spanish colonial history through its central character Don Diego de Zama (Daniel Giménez Cacho) who slowly loses his grip on reality and descends into paranoia in a remote and savage outpost somewhere in Paraguay.
Sensually deprived and desperate for home, Zama falls prey to the South American sirens including Lola Duenas’s lacivious noblewoman and a local Indian with whom he fathers a crippled child. Martel seduces into her gorgeously costumed cavalcade as we strain to make out the mysterious storyline through a closeted and voyeuristic lens amid exotic birdsong and strange beasts including a volatile pet llama. Beyond the viperish settlement lies a land of exotic savagery populated by dangerous masked tribes and a wild Portuguese warrior named Vicuna who Zuma is tasked to capture in a perilous final attempt at a glorious transfer back to civilisation.
ZAMA echoes Jauja and Embrace of the Serpent. Gleaming like Pandora’s Box and striking like a cobra, Martel offers a dizzyling distallation of the dying days of Don Diego de Zama. MT
VENICE FILM FESTIVAL | OUT OF COMPETITION