color. 115 min. In Spanish w/English subtitles. Lucrecia Martel, dist. by Strand Releasing, www.strandreleasing.com. 2018. DVD UPC 712267372027. $27.99; Blu-ray UPC 712267372034. $32.99. F
Adapted from the 1956 novel by Argentine writer Antonio di Benedetto, this period piece is set in the 18th-century backwaters of the Spanish colony of Paraguay. Don Diego de Zama is a magistrate of the Spanish Empire. He keeps trying to get a revolving set of governors to petition the king to transfer him to the more civilized town where his wife and children live. He keeps getting put off despite his efforts to appease the authorities. The film looks and feels surreal and languorous, with innumerable odd scenes and settings. In many subtle and obvious ways it shows the ignorance and corruption of Spanish colonialism. The native peoples are shown as both noble and oppressed. There are stunning visuals but also something claustrophobic about the close contact of people in small spaces. Diego suffers his indignation with unnerving quietude, which is often uncomfortable to watch.
VERDICT Contains nudity. Both creepy and mesmerizing, this film is very highly recommended for most collections.
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