La Cienaga 2001

The Swamp

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.

88%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 43

80%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,470

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Movie Info

This Argentinean tale, which revolves around a group of families passing summer vacation in a rural country house, does not rely on a concrete plot line, but rather roves, rambles, and stumbles upon each new event. No event, no action, no exchange of words, no scene of the movie is more or less important than another. Instead, the film continues nonsequentially in what feels like a prolonged wait.

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Critic Reviews for La Cienaga

All Critics (43) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (38) | Rotten (5)

  • Every shot is dense with life, with children and animals running in and out, yet the movie is highly focused, a small masterpiece.

    April 6, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Experiencing this film ultimately becomes as stimulating as watching metal rust.

    February 15, 2002 | Rating: C
  • There's a real energy in the way that La Cienaga takes nothing for granted -- except your attention and your intelligence.

    December 13, 2001
  • A strikingly well-directed, relentlessly dreary debut feature from Argentine director Lucrecia Martel.

    November 30, 2001 | Full Review…
  • Look closely and you'll find something not often present in your average art-house flick -- a hint, intense and unsettling, of art itself.

    November 30, 2001 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Martel glues together a disjointed picture of a society where tension lies only skin deep.

    November 29, 2001 | Full Review…

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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