The Headless Woman

Headless Woman evokes yawns

THE HEADLESS WOMAN (Lucrecia Martel) Rating: NN

A year and a half after its contentious bow at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, Lucrecia Martel’s La Mujer Sin Cabeza – roughly translated, The Headless Woman – arrives in Toronto for a limited run at TIFF Cinematheque.


Martel’s previous film, The Holy Girl, was an exceptional drama about a teenage girl obsessed with a much older doctor, but The Headless Woman is a hopelessly affected miscalculation, the work of a director overcome by style.

The middle-aged Verónica (María Onetto) is a reasonably privileged Argentine woman who, one day, hits a dog with her car while driving alongside a canal. Sustaining a head injury in the collision, she spends the rest of the film wandering around in a vaguely hallucinatory daze, eventually becoming convinced she killed a human being in the accident.

As Veró struggles with her conscience, Martel places us in the same gauzy cocoon as her protagonist, shuffling lifelessly from one empty scene to the next as Veró glumly allows her friends and family to reassure her that she’s done nothing wrong.

The Headless Woman only works if you take the title literally: Veró was decapitated in the accident, and everything that follows is her dying fantasy of guilt and absolution. A really, really dull fantasy.

Begins Friday (November 27). See listings, this page. See review of TIFF Cinematheque’s screening of Lisandro Alonso’s Liverpool Friday at

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