La Cienaga (2001)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Two families try to make the best of a bad situation as they suffer through a crippling heat wave in this neo-realistic drama, featuring a primarily non-professional cast. Tali (Mercedes Moran) is minding four small children with little help from her husband, who is preoccupied with the opening of hunting season, as a record hot spell grips Argentina. Things aren't much better for her cousin Mecha (Graciela Borges), who is looking after four teenagers and a husband (Martin Adjemian) who can … More

Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Art House & International, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Lucrecia Martel
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 1, 2005
Cowboy Booking International


as Veronica

as Mercedes

as Joaquin
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Critic Reviews for La Cienaga

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (17)

Experiencing this film ultimately becomes as stimulating as watching metal rust.

Full Review… | February 15, 2002
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

There's a real energy in the way that La Cienaga takes nothing for granted -- except your attention and your intelligence.

Full Review… | December 13, 2001
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic

A strikingly well-directed, relentlessly dreary debut feature from Argentine director Lucrecia Martel.

Full Review… | November 30, 2001
Toronto Star
Top Critic

Look closely and you'll find something not often present in your average art-house flick -- a hint, intense and unsettling, of art itself.

Full Review… | November 30, 2001
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Martel glues together a disjointed picture of a society where tension lies only skin deep.

Full Review… | November 29, 2001
Miami Herald
Top Critic

The triumph of La Cienaga lies in Martel's way of fashioning the kind of ensemble performance that draws us in by convincing us we're watching behavior, not acting.

November 2, 2001
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for La Cienaga

this film is one of those discomfort making works like mike leigh's naked or solondz' happiness. the study of a bourgeois family on vacation, mostly having a miserable time: there's no real plot here but the ending, when it comes, seems inevitable. rather stunning for a debut film. be warned: there are virtually no likeable characters. i'd love to see more of martel's work

Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer


La Cienaga is the story of two bourgeoise families on a summer vacation in their country house in Argentina. Alone, isolated from urban life, unavoidably close to each other, the family members face their own decadance as a group and push themselves, inentionally or not, to the the verge of complete domestic destruction. Nothing works: they don't understand each other, don't like each other, can't stand each other.

The mother is sick, and so sick of life that she prefers to remain sick in bed rather than keep living like she used to. The father is an detached figure in a corner. The brothers and sisters are, of course, in the wake, the middle, or the end of adolescence, with all its respective problems and dilemmas. The other family contains a shallow, overworking mother, a taciturn, passive father, and their little children.

The Swamp is crowded, and noisy; Lucrecia Martel perfectly translates the sticky and unconfortable sensation of humid hot weather, the smell of wet vegetation, dirty pools, brown-water rivers, and the phony cool of electric fans all over the place. All actors and actresses are excellent in their roles, and it's beautifully shot, making the most out of inanimate objects jus as well as characters doing superficial, day-to-day tasks, to create that unconfortable atmosphere of familiar-but-uncertain. Although it lacks a plot per se, there's an everpresent feeling that what is happening is leading someplace. Martel also masterfully creates sexual tension, loads of it, in a film where no sex takes place whatsoever, and where all the characters are, well, related. Regardless of whether it's awkward, Martel goes for it because it's real.

La Cienaga a slow-paced, rambling study of the human condition that builds tension until the unavoidable ending. GREAT. One of the best Argentinian films I've seen.

Elvira B

Super Reviewer


A very promising debut from Lucrecia Martel. No real plot but that doesn't matter when it's such a great study a family life. Beautifully shot also.

Emily B.

Super Reviewer

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