“Some movies unfold as dreams; "Zama" dances us playfully toward the edge of nightmare and then asks us to open our eyes.”
Don Diego de Zama, a low level official stationed in a Spanish outpost cuts a fine figure heroically looking out across the Paraguay River. However, heroic, he is not – in fact, there’s very little to do. Equally ambitious and ineffective, his requests to be promoted and relocated to Buenos Aires only lead to one dead end after another, until his ambition leads him down a strange and intoxicatingly surreal path.
Zama is Lucrecia Martel’s first feature since 2008’s The Headless Woman, itself a precursor to the dreamlike wooziness employed here. It’s also her grandest production to date, co-produced by a huge team including Pedro Almodóvar and Gael García Bernal. The film’s lengthy production culminated in a premiere at the Venice Film Festival, coinciding with Antonio Di Benedetto’s source novel finally being translated into English after 50 years. Both the film and novel have gone on to receive much international acclaim as key works of Argentinian cinema and literature, respectively.