La Cienaga


La Cienaga

Critics Consensus

Dense yet impressively focused, La Cienaga is a disquieting look at domestic dissatisfaction - and a powerful calling card for debuting writer-director Lucrecia Martel.



Total Count: 41


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,463
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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 hardly be bothered to help out, but Mecha does have a pool, even if it hasn't been cleaned in quite a while. Tali and her brood end up spending much of the summer with Mecha as the town is riveted by the appearance of the Virgin Carmen on the city's water tower, and a series of thunderstorms add an awful humidity to the summer's unbearable heat. While seemingly improvised, La Cienaga was actually carefully scripted by Lucrecia Martel, who won a screenwriting award at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival prior to making her directorial debut with this feature.

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Critic Reviews for La Cienaga

All Critics (41) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (36) | Rotten (5)

Audience Reviews for La Cienaga

  • Sep 27, 2015
    There is something fascinating in the way this brilliant film is constructed, directed and edited, as Martel draws a dreary, uncomfortably humid (and even hilariously exaggerated) portrait of Northern Argentinian bourgeoisie, especially with regards to social oppression.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • May 24, 2011
    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 D Super Reviewer
  • Nov 28, 2008
    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
  • Jun 26, 2008
    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

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