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The Headless Woman (2009)

Maria Onetto , Claudia Cantero , Lucrecia Martel  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Maria Onetto, Claudia Cantero, Ines Efron, Daniel Genoud, Cesar Bordon
  • Directors: Lucrecia Martel
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Spanish
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Strand Releasing
  • DVD Release Date: December 15, 2009
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002N7SX8E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,701 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Headless Woman" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

A bourgeois woman is driving alone on a dirt road, becomes distracted, and runs over something. In the days following this jarring incident, she is dazed and emotionally disconnected from the people and events in her life. She becomes obsessed with the possibility that she may have killed someone. The police confirm that there were no accidents reported in the area and everything returns to normal until a gruesome discovery is made. Lucrecia Martel's third feature after the acclaimed La Cienaga and The Holy Girl examines the intricacies of class status and the role of women in a male-dominated society.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A well-to-do Argentinean woman, obsessed with appearances and unhappy in her marriage, is driving home and reaching for her cell phone when suddenly she hits something along the road. She is visibly shaken, unable to bring herself to get out of the vehicle and see what she has done. She tells herself it was a stray dog, but when an impoverished local boy turns up missing, she begins to suspect that she is responsible. A heavy storm that followed the incident appears to have washed away any direct evidence, and as she sinks into a hopeless stupor, the men in her life work to cover up additional traces of whatever may or may not have happened.

The Headless Woman is a powerful film, that employs a formally rigorous style and subtle touch to tell a simple story with profound undercurrents. Tight closeups frame Veronica's face as she loses grip with her reality, and with the pampered simplicity of a bourgeois life. In many ways, as suggested by the title, this is a unique and subtle horror film, about a woman who has become a kind of ghostly presence in her own home, whose descent into madness is no more frightening than the inevitable reemergence of a "sanity" that remains largely blind to the tragedy and destitution of the many around her who serve the whims of the wealthy. I haven't had a chance to see Lucrecia Martel's other critically acclaimed films (La Cienaga, and The Holy Girl), but I'll be sure to catch them now. Her's is a unique and subtle voice in cinema, one of those rare formal poets of film, who on the evidence of this film alone merits comparison with some of the best, like Bresson and Ozu.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disquiet, disturbance, distance April 5, 2010
One of the thoughts I had several times while watching Lucrecia Martel's film, and even more afterwards, was how interesting it would be to be thrown into a film, or a novel, without any preconceptions whatsoever. Without knowing the title, the author or director, the country of origin, the time it was written/produced - nothing. Without preconceptions of any kind, one has to approach a work in complete honesty, unbiased and unaware of how one is "supposed" to experience it, how much one is "supposed" to like or dislike it. Of course many of us have that goal when we start a film or a book, but it's rare that we can really come close to achieving it; if we've seen an Orson Welles film before, and we're going to watch one now, we can't help but bring something to the table. In the case of this film, I knew very little about it before watching, other than that the director was a woman, it was from Argentina (a country from which I've seen one other film, which was made over 50 years ago), it was quite recent, and it had a good reputation. I had read no reviews, and little discussion of it, and I didn't know anything about the plot, and as it turns out, that was all especially to the advantage of the film as it is a film of unease, of dissassociation and disconnection, and it offers no easy answers and few clues as to its methods or direction.

There's a brief prologue in which we see three young dark-skinned boys playing by the side of a road and canal, with a dog. Then a middle-aged woman, leaving a group of adults and kids, and getting in her car. She drives along the same road and canal that we saw in the first scene; her phone rings, and she fumbles for it, swerving and hitting something. She drives on, not stopping, seeing a large shape in her rear view mirror. A dog?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Orchestrated confabulations in a fish-tank August 28, 2010
A dentist, Verónica, has a car accident on the way home from a family get-together. Has she hit a dog, or a child? What should she do? Lucrecia Martel's remarkable third feature follows the traumatised heroine as she floats through her habitual daily routines. The result is a psychological thriller that segues from the mystery of an individual crime to a compelling exploration of communal guilt.Following the accident,due to amnesia ,a bump to the head,anxiety and guilt,she seems to suffer from a `fugue state'.She's unable to recognize her old life,she even sits in the waiting room of her own dentist practice.She runs up the stairs from her husband,not knowing who he is.Surrounding her is the ambient sound track,electrical noises,noises in nature,a cacophony of voices.These get filtered out as her life clicks back into place.

Cinema for Martel is a process of thinking,forcing us to face unpleasant facts.This demands close attention, demonstrates Martel's extraordinary cinematic vision and skill with actors.Her camera is like a microscope. Her story -unacknowledged class warfare- is rendered mostly through images and body language; lead actress María Onetto gives a remarkable performance, but for much of the film she hardly speaks at all.The cleaners and gardeners and servants are all natives:we rarely see a face and never get a name.An Indian boy has disappeared,a body has been found bunging up the canal.You never see this dead body.Although, you could make the case that the "nothing" happened after the accident,the film gives evidence to support a cover-up by her husband and family.As well as being a parable about the evasions of Argentina's dictatorship years,it's also about social class in contemporary Argentina.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent psychological drama from Argentina
"The Headless Woman" (2008 release from Argentina; 87 min.) brings the story of Vero (short for Veronica), a middle-aged woman. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Paul Allaer
5.0 out of 5 stars perception, privilege and class
This movie offers an insightful take on class privilege in contemporary Argentina. On one level, the focus of the movie is on perception--and on whether a woman kills a boy or a... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Bogdan Popa
3.0 out of 5 stars Question of Functionality
My rating has to do with the functionality of the DVD.

This is the first foreign language DVD I've ever purchased that had no option for turning off the subtitles. Read more
Published on November 6, 2010 by Tom Oakes
2.0 out of 5 stars has a chance but does not succeed
This movie had a chance to be some kind of metaphorical or symbolic commentary on women, society, or something else...but it's never really clear what it's supposed to be about. Read more
Published on July 15, 2010 by Viva
1.0 out of 5 stars Unwatchable and Incomprehensible
Truly a waste of time, effort and money. I happen to view a lot of films, and this one is pretty much at the bottom. Read more
Published on May 11, 2010 by Cary B. Barad
3.0 out of 5 stars Minimalist Foreign Tedium, no Chainsaws
Once again, I venture forth into the "foreign" offerings of my local library, determined to expand my narrow viewpoints of cinema and educate myself, albeit in a lazy and slothful... Read more
Published on March 21, 2010 by Zephyr
4.0 out of 5 stars emotionally detached account of a woman's response to tragedy
In the minimalist Argentine drama "The Headless Woman," a distracted motorist (ah those damn cell phones!) runs over something - a dog? a person? Read more
Published on February 16, 2010 by Roland E. Zwick
3.0 out of 5 stars Good.
Review: Good. I expected more from the film. I feel it was inconclusive.
Published on February 6, 2010 by Yolanda Garcia
1.0 out of 5 stars ANGST WITHOUT PURPOSE existential feminist coming of menopausal age movie. I utterly could not fathom the reason for making such a film. Perhaps there are those who can, but not I. Read more
Published on January 30, 2010 by THE KING OF PANGAEA
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most under appreciated film makers
Martel is quickly becoming a master of her own filmic sensibility, which I might call the "art of eavesdropping cinema," and she makes consummate use of something inherent to the... Read more
Published on November 7, 2009 by Eric M. Eiserloh
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