Discover Tuesdays Presents Zama

Discover Tuesdays Presents Zama

Our editor Jon Stern takes a look at Lucrecia Martel's first film in 10 years Zama. Playing on Tuesday 12 June

Before Zama, I’d never seen a Lucrecia Martel movie. About this time last year, audiences at Cannes Film Festival were making noises about a dream-like opus from an Argentinian auteur once called the ‘Malick of Latin American cinema’. I like a lot of Malick’s work, so when I heard the murmurs I decided to check it out.

I was half-expecting something poetic and mysterious, and Martel’s Zama delivered that and more. It’s a strangely absorbing, elliptical tale of a conquistador in crisis – a slow-burn adventure story in which a preening officer of a remote Spanish colony simply wants his misadventure to end. (Think Waiting for Godot wrapped up in colonialist hubris.)

What I wasn’t expecting, however, was a film so mordantly comic.

With arid humour and a dollop of the absurd, Martel tracks our hapless hero’s gradual humiliation and degradation as he waits for a transfer that never comes. In one brilliant scene, a llama saunters into the frame just as one of his many requests is denied. In another, a stable horse turns to look at him as if to say: ‘Why bother?’

Worth mentioning here too is the music. If I’d made a list of predictions about what kind of score the film would have, jaunty surf-like guitar riffs wouldn’t even be on it. But it’s a brilliant musical choice that weirdly complements the misadventure and sharpens the protagonist’s fall through limbo.

There’s a grand cosmic joke going on in Zama, and it’s captivating viewing. Quietly washed ashore beneath the wave of summer blockbusters and popcorn flicks, it’s a cinema experience you never knew you needed, and unlike anything else you’ll see this year.

Hop House 13 is proud to present Discover Tuesdays.

HH13 banner
HH13 banner
Find your cinema and book tickets

Get more with the official Picturehouse App

With the Picturehouse app you can search for film and event times, securely book tickets, watch trailers and more.