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The Headless Woman

A bourgeois woman (Maria Onetto) is driving alone on a dirt road, becomes distracted, and runs over something. In the days following this jarring incident, she is dazed and emotionally disconnected from the people and events in her life. She becomes obsessed with the possibility that she may have killed someone. The police confirm that there were no accidents reported in the area and everything returns to normal until a gruesome discovery is made. Lucrecia Martel’s third feature examines the intricacies of class status and the role of women in a male-dominated society. [Synopsis courtesy of Strand Releasing]

The Call (La llamada)

What do you do when you’re stuck in a rut? Stefano Pasetto’s finely balanced tale of two women from different generations and very different sensibilities provides a surprising answer. Frustrated in each of their relationships, the two women get together and leave town, boldly striking out on their own and forming an indelible bond despite their many differences. This is only the beginning of a wonderfully liberating experience that defies narrative expectations.

Lea (Francesca Inaudi) is the young, free spirit. Working as a laborer in a food-processing factory, she knows that she is cut out for better things. She’s happy living with her tattoo-artist boyfriend, but is eager for new experiences. Lucia (Sandra Ceccarelli), on the other hand, has diametrically opposing values and a very different temperament. She is a middle-aged airline stewardess, married to an allergist, and trying to have a baby. Everything about her is uptight, so her psychiatrist tells her to get out and enjoy life. When she advertises to teach piano lessons, Lea blows into her life. The two are polar opposites: Lea walks around barefoot, while Lucia can’t stand being touched. But all this is about to change. When Lea suddenly gets a job in Patagonia, Lucia is stunned. The person who has brought a spark into her life so unexpectedly is about to leave without a hint of regret.

“The Call” follows this blooming and unlikely relationship. As the two women grow closer and closer, they must also deal with the men they have left behind. Free, independent and strikingly selfish, the older Lucia must learn how to grapple with Lea’s refusal to be pinned down. Both Lea and Lucia are beautifully counter-balanced throughout, and Pasetto proves wonderfully adept at illustrating their unique dynamic. “The Call” displays a mature cinematic sensitivity and unusual emotional acuity. [Synopsis by Piers Handling/Toronto International Film Festival]

History of Fear

A police helicopter circles over a gated community on the outskirts of a large city. Something must have happened. The very first shot of this directorial debut conveys the paranoia which shrouds this film about the fears of an increasingly detached social class. Even a hole in the fence represents a life-threatening event. The other side of their self-made barrier marks the beginning of a social netherworld where they are convinced dubious and unpredictable creatures with designs on their wealth are lurking. The camera takes a step back to capture but also to question in grotesque and absurd tableaux this diffuse anxiety and almost primeval fear. When Argentina was rocked by a severe economic crisis several years ago, politicians exploited people’s fears in order to foster a general feeling of insecurity. In his ironic portrait of a constantly fragmenting society, Benjamin Naishtat ponders this development. [Synopsis courtesy of Berlinale]