Lucrecia Martel’s new film is based on the eponymous novel by Antonio Di Benedetto and portrays a Spanish colonial administrator stuck in the province far away from his family and ambitions. Even though Zama (2017) resembles other works of the “waiting” genre, it also considerably differs from Kafka’s Before the Law and Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Its main point of departure from the mainstream of the genre is its specific existential mode of waiting, best described as an electrically charged field that does not get an actual opportunity to discharge. Moreover, the overt contradictions of his desire (more expressively depicted in the novel than in the film), make Zama appear as a self-saboteur. While, with its tempo and its framing, the film represents a continuation of Martel’s oeuvre, its marvellous colours and extraordinary sound also make it a fresh departure from her previous films The Holy Girl (La niña santa, 2004) and The Headless Woman (La mujer sin cabeza, 2008).

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