The Headless Woman (2008 film)

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The Headless Woman
La Mujer Sin Cabeza.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLucrecia Martel
Produced by
Written byLucrecia Martel
CinematographyBárbara Álvarez
Edited byMiguel Schverdfinger
Distributed byStrand Releasing
Release date
  • 21 May 2008 (2008-05-21) (Cannes)
  • 21 August 2013 (2013-08-21) (Argentina)
Running time
87 minutes
Box office$100,177 (Argentina)[1]

The Headless Woman (Spanish: La mujer sin cabeza / La mujer rubia) is a 2008 Argentine psychological thriller art film[2][3][4] written and directed by Lucrecia Martel and starring María Onetto. The plot revolves around Vero (short for Verónica) (Onetto), who hits something while driving on a deserted road near Salta. Not being sure if she has hit a person or an animal, she drives off, and becomes increasingly mentally disturbed.

The film premiered in competition at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival on May 21, 2008.[5] It opened nationwide on August 21, 2008, after being screened at the Locarno International Film Festival earlier that month. While The Headless Woman was mostly lauded by critics for its cinematography and social commentary and others were critical towards the film's slow pace and lack of clear narrative.[6][7] In 2016, the film appeared on No. 89th on BBC's list of the 100 greatest films of the 21st century.[8]


This film is centered around Vero (Onetto), an Argentinean bourgeois woman, and how her life slowly twists out of control after she may or may not have struck and killed a dark-skinned servant's child with her car. As Vero is driving, she is distracted by her cell phone and, as she looks down to answer it, her car hits something. She peers in the rear-view mirror, collects herself, and drives away. We do not see what she has run over; a non-point-of-view shot of Vero driving away from the scene shows there is indeed a body, but it is unclear whether it is an animal or a person.

Although Vero seems indifferent about the situation, it is clear that the incident deeply disturbs her. She acts clumsy and out of place. When she informs her husband Marcos that she thinks she may have run over someone, she insists upon returning to the scene of the accident; they see something on the side of the road, which her husband insists is merely a dog, though Vero is even more unsure than before. Later, the body of a dark-skinned servant's child is recovered from a canal, right above the spot where the accident occurred. Her daughter Candita tells her that she wants to know more about "that boy who was murdered," but Vero insists that the boy was drowned: "The papers say he was drowned."

Still privately unconvinced, in an attempt to jog back her memory after the accident, she revisits a hospital where she had X-rays taken and a hotel where she had a post-accident tryst with her lover Juan Manuel. She discovers that there are no records of her visits to a hospital (perhaps scrubbed by her brother, who works there) and the Hotel where she stayed (perhaps scrubbed by Juan Manuel). Finally, she attends a bourgeois party in a hotel, smiling weakly and dazedly as people enter in and out of the busy frame.


  • María Onetto as Verónica
  • Claudia Cantero as Josefina
  • César Bordón as Marcos
  • Daniel Genoud as Juan Manuel
  • Guillermo Arengo as Marcelo
  • Inés Efron as Candita
  • Alicia Muxo as Prima Rosita
  • Pía Uribelarrea as Prima Tere
  • María Vaner as Tía Lala


Critical response[edit]

The Headless Woman garnered mostly positive reviews from film critics. On review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an overall 72% "Fresh" approval rating based on 47 reviews, with a rating average of 6.9 out of 10. The site's consensus is: "Careful and slight, Lucretia Martel's Headless Woman doesn't fit neatly into a clear storyline, but supports itself with ethereal visuals."[9] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 0–100 reviews from film critics, the film has a rating score of 82 based on 12 reviews, classified as a universally acclaimed film.[10]


Award Date of ceremony[I] Category Recipients and nominees Outcome
ACE Awards[11] April 17, 2010 Best Director Lucrecia Martel Won
Argentine Academy of Cinematography Arts and Sciences Awards[12][13] December 15, 2008 Best Actress María Onetto Nominated
Best Art Direction María Eugenia Sueiro Nominated
Best Cinematography Bárbara Álvarez Nominated
Best Costume Design Julio Suárez Nominated
Best Director Lucrecia Martel Won
Best Editing Miguel Schverdfinger Nominated
Best Film The Headless Woman Won
Best Screenplay, Original Lucrecia Martel Won
Best Sound Guido Berenblum Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Claudia Cantero
María Vaner
Argentinean Film Critics Association Awards August 10, 2009 Best Actress María Onetto Won
Best Director Lucrecia Martel Nominated
Best Supporting Actress María Vaner Nominated
Cannes Film Festival[14] May 25, 2008 Palme d'Or Lucrecia Martel Nominated
Lima Latin American Film Festival[15] August 15, 2008 Critics Award The Headless Woman Won
Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival October 9, 2008 FIPRESCI Award Lucrecia Martel Won
VFCC Awards January 11, 2010 Best Foreign Language Film The Headless Woman Won

^[I] Each year is linked to the article about the awards held that year.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Headless Woman (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  2. ^ Gilbey, Ryan (February 18, 2010). "The Headless Woman (12A)". New Statesman. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
  3. ^ Turner, Matthew (February 19, 2010). "The Headless Woman (12A)". ViewLondon. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
  4. ^ Clifford, Laura (April 14, 2010). "The Headless Woman (La mujer sin cabeza)". Reeling Reviews. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
  5. ^ Festival Website
  6. ^ Hunter, Allan (February 19, 2010). "The Headless Woman review and trailer". Daily Express. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
  7. ^ Maher, Kevin (February 19, 2010). "The Headless Woman". The Sunday Times. London. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
  8. ^ "BBC's 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century". BBC. 23 August 2016.
  9. ^ "La Mujer sin Cabeza (The Headless Woman) (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  10. ^ "The Headless Woman". Metacritic. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  11. ^ "Lucrecia Martel es la mejor directora de cine de 2009". Diario Uno. January 1, 2010. Retrieved November 3, 2011.
  12. ^ "PREMIO SUR - 2008 - Ganadores" (in Spanish). Argentine Academy of Cinematography Arts and Sciences Awards. Retrieved November 3, 2011.
  13. ^ "PREMIO SUR - 2008 - Nominaciones" (in Spanish). Argentine Academy of Cinematography Arts and Sciences. Retrieved November 3, 2011.
  14. ^ "Official Selection 2008 : In Competition". Festival de Cannes. Retrieved November 3, 2011.
  15. ^ "Reina del Festival. Leonera, del argentino Pablo Trapero, triunfó en fiesta del cine". La República. August 17, 2008. Retrieved November 3, 2011.

External links[edit]