La Nina Santa - Lucretia Martel - Argentina 2004 - Mercedes Moran; Maria Alche; Carlos Belloso
Viewed - Tyneside Cinema 31 March 2005 - £5-95
An Argentinean/Spanish chamber piece which avoids the cutesy archeness that cinema of this provenance often embraces as a solution to dramatic imbroglio’s. Martel’s oblique framing and use of fragmented scenes allows the development of two parallel domains to flow out of three intersecting worlds which fold into one another like a complex origami construction. La Nina Santa(LNS) builds on intercourse between these worlds: the fluxes of female adolescence, a rundown out of season hotel, a conference of doctors.
The three worlds are psychically and physically marked out by the hair of the principal players which has the power of an interlubricant. Hair in LNS is not a control statement. Hair in LNS is a manifest independent physical force of the actors that creates powerful fields of attraction and resistance independent of will. In most Hollywood movies hair is something that is kept under the strictest control and carefully contoured as part of costume. Hair is tamed and modeled to suit the needs of the actors and the film script: it can be understood as a sort of production value: it operates as optical sign encoding moral character and mood. As hair per se, as matter, it has no independent function or role(Garbo and Ingrid Bergmen exceptions here). In the world of the girls, their hair is part of their sensualites and sensibilities; the dry and frazzled hair of the hotel people and their shampoo(‘it dries out your hair’) personified by Mecedes Moran, is located at the centre of identity; the creeping baldness of the doctor(Carlos Belloso) is part of the aridity of conference world. Physical attributes such as hair can interweave and interflow through being in such a way that it becomes life. Their are no haircuts so to speak in LNS; just hair as an attribute of being.
LNS is not just an interpenetrating of worlds. Underlaying these worlds are domains: the domain of the visible and the domain of the invisible. Lucretia Martel uses invisible musical instruments and the spraying invisible enemies as the outer markers of the things we can’t see. Unseen domains are folded into the characters, carrying them and releasing in them the impulse to action. The domains of past relationships, the domain of spirit, the domains of sexual yearnings and desires meld achieve transient intensities that instantly fragment and re-form.
The opening shot of LNS sees the young girls at religious instruction listening to the song of the unseen forces of religion. Looking at the group, it is a sea of trailing hair falling through faces punctuated by eyes. The last shot we see the two main young girls floating togather in the waters of the pool with their hair flowing about them as far away and above in another unseen world, we know that a tragi-comic script is being played out.
Adrin Neatrour 7 April 05