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La Cienaga Review

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Two mothers, Mecha (Borges) and her impoverished cousin Tali (Moran)s pend a lot of time getting drunk and uselessly planning the future that will never happen. Meanwhile their children run riot, learning life's lessons the hard way.

★★★★★

A hint of Jean Renoir's La Regle Du Jeu pervades Lucrecia Martel's debut feature. Just as that film depicted 1939 Europe 'dancing on a volcano', this complex family saga, with its ceaselessly rumbling storm, suggests a South America on the verge of its own crisis.

Amidst the stifling decay of Argentina's unfashionable north-west, decadent, drunk Borges and her impoverished cousin, Moran, spend the summer hatching unrealised plans, while their assorted children are left to learn about life the hard way.

With water, blood and motherhood very much to the fore, the symbolism is slightly obscure. But the intensity of the melodrama (evoking both Chekhov and Tennessee Williams) ensures this is never less than compelling.

Translating to 'The Swamp', Lucretia Martel continues her examination of South America's decayat the hands of irresposnsible authorities. It's not easy viewing, but drawing such lofty influences helps the director's already steady hand.