“In the end it had all been too simple, too easy. But I feared my good fortune.”
Sophisticated period piece with elements of Werner Herzog, Kafka and Don Quixote. Zama is going incontrovertibly insane. But trapped inside the cascading absurdities of colonisation, no one can even tell.
9 Silver Condors incl Best film, director, adapted screenplay, costume design & art direction
Some movies unfold as dreams; “Zama” dances us playfully toward the edge of nightmare and then asks us to open our eyes.
It stands as a startling original. The reason to see it is what happens as Zama inexorably loses his mind. Delusions seize him, apparitions come and go.
Wall Street Journal
Don Diego de Zama, an officer of the Spanish Crown – a functionary of rank – but born in South America, waits for a letter from the King granting him a transfer from the town in which he is stagnatingly wasting away, to a better place in Argentina, where his wife has been waiting for him. His situation is delicate. He must ensure that nothing overshadows his transfer. He is forced to accept submissively every task entrusted to him by successive Governors who come and go as he stays behind. Everything goes wrong.
Based on the classic novel by Antonio Di Benedetto, a book that is widely regarded as the key text of Argentinean modernism, Zama places the existential ennui of Beckett and the administrative hopelessness of Kafka within a 17th century context. In so doing, director Martel is identifying a sense of dislocation and madness at the very heart of Spain’s colonial project and the civilization of South America.
Zama is a remarkable film about failure, the fundamental wound at the heart of masculinity. It is a strange, unsettling and surprisingly funny tale of a bumbling bureaucrat relegated to the outskirts of Spain’s colonial takeover of South America. As the first feature from Lucrecia Martel in nearly a decade, it’s also nothing short of an event: an outstanding new film by one of cinema’s great contemporary (female) filmmakers.
Argentina 2017, 114 min, rated M (nudity & violence)
Directed by Lucrecia Martel
Starring Daniel Giménez Cacho, Lola Dueñas, Matheus Nachtergaele & Juan Minujín