I find Lucrecia Martel to be a fascinating filmmaker. Before Zama, the only film of her’s that I had seen was La Ciénaga. I’m not much of a fan of La Ciénaga, but it has stuck with me since watching it. I think that shows the impact she has as a filmmaker. She has a unique vision and doesn’t seem interested in conforming to a “norm” that other filmmakers do.
Martel is important as a filmmaker because she does the opposite of what American filmmaking teachers would tell you. She often focuses on the mundane, something your teachers would tell you to cut out of your film. Martel succeeds because of her great abilities as a visual storyteller and dedication to her vision.
The most admirable trait of Lucrecia Martel for me is that she doesn’t seem to be out to impress anyone. She doesn’t want to be flashy or show-off. Her films have a very literal approach. She seems to showcase things as they are and doesn’t try to dress them up.
Zama has beautiful images, but not in a way that asks us to pat Martel on the back for creating them. In Zama, the closest shot we have to that is when men are riding on horses across a field with a bright blue sky behind them. We should respect Martel for showing us the beauty of life and nature and resisting the urge to fabricate it in any way that lacks subtlety.
Lucrecia Martel is clearly a very gifted visual storyteller. The story in Zama could have been more engaging for me, but it was enough to support the cinematography. I would recommend Zama to anyone who just wants a film to wash over them and see attractive images.