directed by Lucrecia Martel, Argentina/ France/ Spain 2017, 115' (English friendly)
The newest film from Lucrecia Martel (The Swamp, The Holy Girl, The Headless Woman) has been based on Antoni di Benedetta's novel, dedicated to – as the eminent Argentine writer and journalist Martín Caparrós, the author of The Hunger, has said – "the victims of expectations." The main character, Diego de Zama, is an administrator residing on the outskirts of an eighteenth-century Spanish colony. He lives in a state of endless waiting for news of the more glamorous and prestigious posting he once assumed would quickly follow. He yearns to be noticed by the leaders for his morals and leadership. Looking forward to the future, however, he does not see the value of what is happening around him. He is a prisoner of the office, a man who is persistently attached to rituals, looking at himself through the prism of his social position. Tropical heat and moisture quickly expose the emptiness of the standards brought over from Europe. The more desperately the protagonist clings to the rigid rules, which he believes an official, a colonizer, and a proud white man should follow, the more humiliation awaits him. By situating her story in a cultural borderland, where the representatives of the Spanish Crown are forced into an uncertain coexistence with indigenous people, Lucrecia Martel gives Zama a chance for transformation and liberation. A chance that comes with a fall.