Lucrecia MartelArgentina106 minutes2004ColourSpanish
Even more brilliant than La Ciénaga, Martel's second feature staked her claim to being the Chekhov of Argentine cinema. Refined and sensual, full of finely limned character portraits, The Holy Girl has rarely been equalled since for its lovely allusiveness. Amalia (María Alché), the saintly teenager of the title, takes classes in Catholic vocation, but her blossoming body and lascivious mind contend with those religious teachings. Her mother, a lonely divorcee (the magnificent Mercedes Moran), runs a faded hotel into which a mid-winter convention of eye, ear, nose and throat specialists is booked. Dr. Jano (Carlos Belloso), a married physician attending the conference, surprises his own shy and hesitant self by responding to both the holy girl and her mother, spelling disaster for all concerned. As funny as it is melancholy, full of strange and startling moments, The Holy Girl received some of the best reviews of its year: "A very intelligent movie marked by candor and compassion" (Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune); "Altogether amazing" (A. O. Scott, The New York Times).