The Holy Girl

2004 [SPANISH]

Drama

0
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 77%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 58%
IMDb Rating 6.7 10 3921

woman director doctor hotel teenage girl

Plot summary


Uploaded by: FREEMAN
June 13, 2022 at 10:59 AM

Top cast

Julieta Zylberberg as Josefina
Mía Maestro as Inés
720p.WEB
916.96 MB
1280*694
Spanish 2.0
R
25 fps
1 hr 39 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by howard.schumann 9 / 10

An extraordinary achievement

The combination of budding adolescent sexuality and Catholic Sunday School sermonizing leads to confusion and trouble in Lucrecia Martel's remarkable second film The Holy Girl. Similar in style to Alain Cavalier's masterful Thérése, another film about religious fervor, The Holy Girl is an extremely intimate series of minimalist vignettes in which the story unfolds in glimpses and whispered conversations, in "a slow reverie of quick moments". As in Thérése, there is no approval or disapproval of behavior, only a snapshot of events that the viewer is left to interpret -- and it can be a challenge.

Set in La Salta, the same small Northern Argentine town as Martel's first feature La Ciénaga, the film takes place at a run down hotel that is hosting a medical convention of ear, nose, and throat doctors. The scene is a constant flux of people and movement and it is difficult at first to sort out the characters. Amalia (Maria Alché) is the sixteen-year old daughter of the hotel's manager Helena (Mercedes Moran) who is recently divorced and lives with her brother Freddy (Alejandro Urdapilleta). Helena suffers from an inner ear problem that is reflected in a discordant ringing noise that affects her relationship with the world around her.

As the film opens, Inés (Mia Maestro), a young Catholic teacher leads a group of girls in choir practice. "What is it, Lord, you want of me?" she sings. Overcome with emotion, tears well up in her eyes but Amalia and her friend Josefina (Julieta Zylberberg) merely whisper to each other about the teacher's alleged love affairs. The talk in class is about the student's "mission" and how they can recognize the signs that point to God's calling. Amalia thinks she sees a sign when a doctor attending the conference, Dr. Jano (Carlos Belloso) goes in for some sexual touching while she stands in a group listening to a performance on the Theremin, an instrument that is not touched, but is played by disturbing the surrounding air (perhaps the way adults ought to deal with adolescents).

The character's motivations are complex and defy easy categorizing. Jano is a family man with children but seems driven by sexual longings. Helena, still seething that her ex-husband has just fathered twins by his new wife, is attracted to Jano but her advances are not reciprocated and her relationship with Freddy has a hint of more than brotherly love. Josefina teases her young cousin but holds back from committing herself, yet fully engages in kissing with Amalia, though what it means to them is uncertain. Amalia thinks that her mission is to save Dr. Jano and seductively follows him around the hotel, even entering his room when he is not there. At first not relating Amalia's stalking to the incident in the crowd, Jano becomes fearful that his medical career will be jeopardized when he discovers her identity, but the die is cast and Amalia's casual relating the incident to Josefina leads to unintended results.

The Holy Girl is elusive and somewhat disorienting, yet it remains an extraordinary achievement, full of intensity and crackling tension, true to the way people act when they are dealing with feelings bubbling beneath the surface. The girls live in their own little world, oblivious to the havoc they have unleashed and it is Martel's brilliant direction that allows us to enter that world, and it is not always comfortable. What happens in the film may be inappropriate but it never seems perverse. We expect the characters to be either heroes or villains but Martel sees them only as flawed human beings. Like the knowing half-smile etched on Amalia's face, her universe is imbued with a mystery that simply observes rather than evaluates. If the ending does not provide us with immediate gratification, it may be because it respects that mystery.

Reviewed by gradyharp 10 / 10

Lucrecia Martel: An Argentinean Filmmaker in the Vein of Buñuel and Almodóvar

Lucrecia Martel is one gifted artist. Her latest film, 'La Niña santa' (The Holy Girl) was conceived, written and directed in a style that is a tough and puzzling of Luis Buñuel and Pedro Almodóvar: what you see on the screen is an enigmatic mixture of sexuality and spirituality, comedy and drama, polemics and parody, all woven together in a fascinatingly beautiful story that demands a lot from the audience. Martel is a talent of enormous potential and magnitude.

In a somewhat seedy hotel somewhere in Argentina (? Buenos Aires,? Rosario) lives divorced party planner Helena (a brilliant Mercedes Morán), her also divorced brother Freddy (Alejandro Urdapilleta), and her teenage daughter Amalia (María Alche). Amalia goes to parochial school with her friend Josefina (Julieta Zylberberg) and there they study Catholic life and the need for a 'vocation'. Both girls are caught up in the throes of adolescent sexual awakening and committed spiritual development, with the loggerheads the two themes can produce. Josefina is having safe sex (ie anal sex) while demanding that her perpetrator not speak during the act. Amalia finds a different encounter.

In the hotel is a convention of doctors, among them one Dr. Jano (Carlos Belloso) who, though married with children, has a secretive act of pressing himself against the buttocks of young girls (an act of molestation), and while listening to a street Thermin player, he rubs against Amalia. Amalia becomes obsessed with the act and its possible permutations and finally decides that this man's redemption is her 'vocation'. While she confides the incidents to Josefina, she otherwise keeps her secret.

Meanwhile Helena is monitoring the doctors' convention and meets Dr Jano, is attracted to him, and agrees to be an 'actress' for a convention closing drama on doctor/patient relationships. Dr Jano is invited to Helena's room where of course he meets the stalking Amalia, and the tension of the multiple innuendos mounts. Dr Jano's family arrives at the convention dousing Helena's hopes for a assignation, but encouraging Amalia to corner Jano to reassure him he is a good man (ie, she provides his redemption - her 'vocation' commitment for her spiritual training). How this plays out in the end provides the food for post-film thought and is best left for the viewer to see.

Martel's technique for drawing characters is unique and extraordinary, made all the stronger from her carefully selected cast of top-flight actors (many of whom she has used in prior projects, 'La Cienega' etc). Her camera designs (fulfilled by cinematographer Félix Monti) and her wondrous emphasis on sound (including original music by Andres Gerzenson as well as repeated use of Thermin reproduction of music by Bach and Bizet) give her film a special look that is becoming her trademark.

Her executive producer is Pedro Almodóvar which should tell the audience a lot about the importance of this film. Lucrecia Martel creates difficult, highly intelligent, at times meandering, but always fascinating movies. She is a budding giant in the industry. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp

Reviewed by jotix100 8 / 10

Awakenings

Lucrecia Martel, the director of "The Holy Girl" gives us an erotically charged account of a young woman's awakening to a world that she seems not to be ready for. Ms. Martel combines a mixture of religion and eroticism in the narrative of the film. As always, the director gathers an interesting cast to tell her story.

It's interesting to read some of the negative comments to this forum. Most perceive the film as boring and slow. In fact, the film is far from that, and it was surprising to see the movie the other day at the Lincoln Plaza complex with a theater half full and nobody walked out of the film, something that we have witnessed viewers to do with other, more acclaimed features.

Ms. Martel takes us to a remote spot in Northern Argentina, an improbable place for holding a medical convention. At the same time, the director, in an interview we read, tells about how the location, which she knew from having been as a guest, made an impression on her and she based her story at the hotel.

Amalia is a young girl that is just awakening to a sexuality that goes against her upbringing. We see her surrounded by her school mates and the loyal Josefina, her best friend. Ines, who seems older, leads the group in prayer, perhaps to get the young women's mind into their latent sexual awakenings. Amalia lives in the hotel with her mother, an attractive woman who seems to be oblivious to what's going on with her daughter. In fact, one gets the impression the mother enjoys whatever sex she gets to the fullest.

Enter the roguish Dr. Jano. He is on his own, attending the medical conference, although he is married and has about four children. When Dr. Jano goes into town he spots a group watching a street performance and immediately gravitates toward the beautiful young woman he sees as someone he can casually rub himself against the girl without attracting attention. Amalia realizes what's going on and starts following this enigmatic man, who proves to be elusive in the open. He is more of a voyeur rather than a man that would lead Amalia into an open sexual encounter. Everything is done in a subtle way, which in a way works better because of the shock it provokes on the viewer. In a way, Ms. Martel makes us voyeurs because through her camera, she makes us watch what Dr. Jano is doing to Amalia.

The acting Ms. Martel got from the principals is amazing. Maria Alche is a girl of great beauty. She is an intense young woman who fits perfectly in the story. The other good performance comes from Carlos Belloso. His Dr. Jano is an enigma as we watch him. In a way it shows this man as a duplicitous person who being married, will go and try to get his thrills in dark places, probably sitting next to unsuspecting young women in movies, or wherever he can be aroused without being obvious. Mia Maestro is Ines, the pious woman who is seen giving religious instruction to the girls. Julieta Zyberberg is good as Josefina and Mercedes Moran also has great moments as Helena.

This is a disturbing film, but one that dares to speak of things that other film makers avoid. Ms. Martel shows she is a director that doesn't mind taking chances.

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