The Holy Girl

"Weak"

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

New Movies

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

After the formulaic thrills of The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron, Marvel's Avengers were...

Son of Saul Movie Review

Son of Saul Movie Review

From Hungary, this year's Oscar-winning foreign film is a remarkably fresh take on the Holocaust...

Demolition Movie Review

Demolition Movie Review

With its darkly emotive themes and brittle humour, this well-made drama by Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas...

Bastille Day Movie Review

Bastille Day Movie Review

An attempt to muscle in on Luc Besson's Taken-style of thriller, this is an odd...

Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Movie Review

Secret Cinema Presents: 28 Days Later Movie Review

Expectations are a problem with this year's Secret Cinema event. After the jaw-dropping, goosebump-inducing surprises...

Jane Got a Gun Movie Review

Jane Got a Gun Movie Review

With its grindingly low-key tension and unusual perspectives, this Western has a chance to revamp...

Criminal Movie Review

Criminal Movie Review

Almost criminally entertaining, this preposterous thriller mixes buckets of humour and emotion into the violent,...

Advertisement
The Jungle Book Movie Review

The Jungle Book Movie Review

Using remarkably photorealistic animation, this remake of the 1967 Disney classic is warm and enjoyable,...

Eye in the Sky Movie Review

Eye in the Sky Movie Review

Almost forensic in its approach, this smart thriller explores a drone strike from a variety...

Midnight Special Movie Review

Midnight Special Movie Review

Gifted director Jeff Nichols takes on another genre in his fourth film with actor Michael...

Boulevard Movie Review

Boulevard Movie Review

This dark, introspective drama hinges on one of Robin Williams' final film performances before his...

The Huntsman: Winter's War Movie Review

The Huntsman: Winter's War Movie Review

Aside from success at the box office, there was nothing about 2012's rather uneven fantasy...

Black Mountain Poets Movie Review

Black Mountain Poets Movie Review

It's fairly obvious that the cast and crew began making this film with only the...

Victoria Movie Review

Victoria Movie Review

One of the most breathtaking films of the year, this ambitious story shifts from a...

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.