The Holy Girl

"OK"

The Holy Girl Review


Lucrecia Martel's The Holy Girl has its finger on something for sure, it's just not quite sure what to do with it. An Argentinean film of rare beauty and smoldering sensuality, it's set in an old, family-run hotel where a medical conference is taking place. The young teenage girl of the title, Amalia (Maria Alché) lives in the hotel and is possessed of an uncommonly emotional religious fervor. There's an old European spirit to her spiritual devotion, which is brought to an even higher pitch by the church study sessions she attends after choir (in a different age, you almost feel that she would have found a way to get martyred, and there would be a church consecrated in her memory). But Amalia has little idea how to vent her feelings, other than in prayer and at her best friend and semi-girlfriend Josefina (Julieta Zylberberg), who seems to share both Amalia's religious passion and her romantic yearnings.

However, both girls have other outlets for their feelings. Josefina has a boy whom she allows to come over and have sex with her, but only if she's turned away from him and he doesn't talk. Amalia's passions take a darker bent one day when she's out in the street with a crowd watching a man playing a spooky piece on a Theremin, when one of the doctors in town for the conference comes up behind her and rubs up against her suggestively. They don't say a word and she barely sees him as he scurries off. In what most would take as an unfortunate turn of events, this Dr. Jano (Carlos Belloso) is the man whom Amalia's mother Helena (the impossibly beautiful Mercedes Morán) decides to spark up a relationship with. But Amalia seems to take this as a challenge, as she sets about trying to save Dr. Jano from his own darker impulses, a mission that takes on certain romantic shadings the more involved she gets.

One would imagine that such a setup would have resulted in quite the little hothouse of deceit, forbidden desire and spiritualism, but Martel's film is far too content to amble about with its characters, barely shaping them into any appreciable courses of action. This is a film that can coast quite a long way simply on the strength of its look - a rich, velvety quietude - and its performances, all of which are heartfelt and filled with nuance. But somewhere along the way, it simply falls to spark into life, leaving the various elements of its story stranded along the way and failing to cohere into something as passionate as that which goes on inside Amalia's head. Martel is an uncommonly talented director, but as a storyteller she has quite some room left to grow.

Ultimately, what should have been a religious experience comes off more like a botched coming-of-age tale with some pungent atmospherics.

Aka La Niña santa.

Deep breaths, it'll pass.



The Holy Girl

Facts and Figures

Run time: 106 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 6th May 2004

Box Office USA: $0.2M

Distributed by: Fine Line Features

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Fresh: 44 Rotten: 14

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: María Alche as Amalia, as Helena, as Dr. Jano, Alejandro Urdapilleta as Freddy, as Inés

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.