Lucrecia Martell’s La Ciénaga and Alice Rohrwacher The Wonders are both female-led vehicles that deconstruct notions of the modern family. The two films are also personal reflections of their directors, with Ciénaga based in the suburbs where Martel was raised and Wonders also using Rochwacher’s place of birth as reference. From the perspective of their protagonists, beyond-their-years emotionally intelligent teenage girls, the features combine elements of satire and realism to convey intergenerational difference; also relying on feminist phenomenology to unpack the patriarchal order consistent with traditional family structures.
La Ciénaga (2001), directed by Argentinean auteur Lucretia Martel, embodies the sardonic sensibilities of New Argentine Cinema. Perhaps the best example of this in the film is Martel’s infatuation with the corporal. The film opens with unflattering close-ups of cellulite and aging bodies near an outdoor pool – bodies that are otherwise, humorously, positioned for print magazine advertising. Shortly thereafter, the film’s most probable heroine, Mecha, drunkenly injures herself in a moment that parallels a later scene where a cow slowly descends into quicksand. In these scenes the primary subject on screen reflects the country’s aging bourgeoisie, which Martel records both intimately and with a mocking distance. Like other films of New Argentine Cinema, Martel’s work takes a structural departure from traditional narrative cinema, and with La Ciénaga the filmmaker uses it to paint a scathing portrait of the Argentinean bourgeoisie.