La Niña Santa (1/10)

by Tony Medley

The only thing wrong with this 106-minute movie is that it’s 105 minutes too long. The opening titles are clever. Written and directed by Lucrecia Martel, this thing has no premise. I must have aged ten years sitting through this. Apropos of something with which Pedro Almodovar is involved, this has lots and lots of long scenes of people thinking. No dialogue, just thinking. I don’t find that entertaining.

Advertised as a sexual “coming of age” tale about teenage girls, in fact it’s just a very long film that, if you sit through all of it, should serve as enough suffering to remit all of the temporal punishment for your sins so you can go directly to heaven when you expire.

Compounding that, all the actors, save Mercedes Morán, who plays Helena, are unattractive. Helena is having a fling with Dr. Jano (Carlos Belloso), who rubs up against Helena’s daughter, Amalia (Maria Alché), who feels guilt, but attraction, at her first sexual encounter. Dr. Jano feels guilt about it, too. As near as I could determine, that’s the story. I had an extremely difficult time concentrating as my mind kept wandering to extraneous matters. I thought maybe my friend, who speaks Spanish, was enjoying it and the reason I wasn’t was due to inaccurate subtitles, which were hard to see because they often blended in with the background. But after the film she said she thought it was long and boring, too, and that the subtitles were accurate. She did say, however, that it was an accurate portrayal of young women in South America.

Worse, the film cowards out at the end. After sitting through this entire debacle, we are deprived of the confrontation promised with Dr. Jano as the film ends with Amalia and her girl friend floating on their backs in a decrepit swimming pool as her friend’s mother waits to see Helena and Dr. Jano to make the accusation.

I can’t think of one reason to waste time seeing this.

May 4, 2005