La Nina Santa review

Elusive, oblique, yet always compelling, writer/director Lucrecia Martel's second feature takes place during a medical convention at an Argentine hotel, which is also the home of a glamorous divorcee, Helena (Mercedes Morán), and her schoolgirl daughter, Amalia (Maria Alché). When one of the middle-aged doctors (Carlos Belloso) deliberately rubs against the teenager in a crowded street, Amalia considers it her Catholic duty to save the man from his sins, even though he's caught her mother's eye.

La Nina Santa is suffused with a febrile atmosphere of yearning and emotional secretiveness. Avoiding conventional establishing shots, Martel drops in on her unusually framed characters, picking out telling moments and snatches of conversation, whilst letting the viewer make their own connections between the pieces in the narrative puzzle. The result is a sensual film that evocatively conveys the confusions of adolescent desire.

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Available platformsMovie