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María Onetto is lost deep in thought through most of Lucrecia Martel’s Argentine drama

Museum of the Moving Image
35th Ave. at 36th St., Astoria
Saturday, April 6, free with museum admission, 6:00
Series runs April 4-7

Inspired by nightmares she has in which she commits murder, Lucrecia Martel’s The Headless Woman details a woman’s emotional and psychological reaction after having possibly killed someone. María Onetto gives a mesmerizingly cool, distant performance as Veronica, a middle-aged, upper-class wife and mother whose biggest worry appears to be the turtles that have infested the new pool built behind a veterinary office. But one afternoon, while out driving carelessly in her Mercedes along a twisting, barren road, she hits something. Not sure if it was a child, an adult, or an animal, she decides to continue on, telling no one what she has done. But when a poor, local boy goes missing, she begins to suspect that she might have killed him. An intriguing mix of Buñuel’s class-consciousness and Poe’s flair for suspense, The Headless Woman is an unusual kind of murder mystery. In Veronica, Argentine writer-director Martel (La Cienaga, The Holy Girl) has created a compelling protagonist/villain, played with expert calm and faraway eyes by Onetto.

The Headless Woman is screening April 6 at 6:00 as part of the Museum of the Moving Image series “The Life of Film: Celebrating a Decade of Reverse Shot,” featuring four days of screenings, Q&As, and a panel discussion paying tribute to the tenth anniversary of the quarterly online film magazine founded by editors Michael Koresky and Jeff Reichert (who curated this series) and writers Erik Syngle and Neal Block. In issue thirty-two, Eric Hynes reviewed The Headless Woman, writing, “In the films of Lucrecia Martel you’re challenged to pay attention well before you’re ready, to play catch-up, figuring out who’s related to whom and what is relevant. But as with the protagonist’s subsequent disorientation, your heightened yet bewildered state isn’t a set-up or effect — it’s the point. Martel sharpens your senses — and celebrates and rewards them — while compelling you to distrust them.” The screening will be introduced by Chris Wisniewski, Reverse Shot contributor and Moving Image deputy director for education and visitor experience. The series runs April 4-7, also presenting Shane Carruth’s Primer (with the director present), a preview screening of Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder, Miguel Gomes’s The Face You Deserve, Douglas Gordon and Phillippe Parreno’s Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (introduced by Hynes and followed by a roundtable discussion), and “Deborah Stratman and Dani Leventhal: Avant-Garde Voices,” featuring Stratman’s O’er the Land and Leventhal’s Draft 9 and Shayne’s Rectangle (introduced by Genevieve Yue).

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