The Headless Woman (2008 film)

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The Headless Woman
La Mujer Sin Cabeza.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Lucrecia Martel
Produced by
Written by Lucrecia Martel
Cinematography Bárbara Álvarez
Edited by Miguel Schverdfinger
Distributed by Strand Releasing
Release date
  • 21 May 2008 (2008-05-21) (Cannes)
  • 21 August 2013 (2013-08-21) (Argentina)
Running time
87 minutes
Country Argentina
Language Spanish
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,[4][6][7][8] with some comparing Martel to Alfred Hitchcock and Michelangelo Antonioni,[9] others were critical towards the film's slow pace and lack of clear narrative.[10][11]


On a road outside a city in the far north of Argentina, some poor boys and a dog are playing. Driving along the road, a middle-aged dentist called Verónica hits something and goes into shock. Instead of going back, she gets herself to a hospital for an x-ray and then spends the night in room 818 of a hotel. Going home next day, physically and mentally traumatised by her experience, she is unable to communicate what has happened. In time she manages to tell her husband who, after driving her to the scene of the accident, decides it must have been a dog she hit. Gradually she gets back to normal, her car is repaired and she feels able to work again and join in family activities.

Then, driving along the same stretch of road, she sees a rescue crew trying to recover something which smells terrible from the ditch. Later, the newspapers report that it was the corpse of a boy. When Verónica, who has dyed her hair and now drives the family's other car, goes to the hospital to ask for her radiology file, she is told they have no record of her. Going to the hotel, she asks who was in room 818 on the night of the accident and the receptionist assures her it was empty. Nothing links her to the death.[12]



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."[13] 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.[14]


Award Date of ceremony[I] Category Recipients and nominees Outcome
ACE Awards[15] April 17, 2010 Best Director Lucrecia Martel Won
Argentine Academy of Cinematography Arts and Sciences Awards[16][17] 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[18] May 25, 2008 Palme d'Or Lucrecia Martel Nominated
Lima Latin American Film Festival[19] 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. ^ a b Clifford, Laura (April 14, 2010). "The Headless Woman (La mujer sin cabeza)". Reeling Reviews. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 
  5. ^ Festival Website
  6. ^ Keogh, Tom (October 22, 2009). "'Headless Woman' drives through life in a fog". The Seattle Times. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 
  7. ^ G. Allen Johnson (September 18, 2009). "Review: 'The Headless Woman'". SFGate. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 
  8. ^ Levy, Emanuel (August 18, 2009). "Headless Woman, The". EmanuelLevy.Com. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 
  9. ^ Morris, Wesley (April 29, 2009). "'The Headless Woman' movie review". The Boston Guide. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 
  10. ^ Hunter, Allan (February 19, 2010). "The Headless Woman review and trailer". Daily Express. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 
  11. ^ Maher, Kevin (February 19, 2010). "The Headless Woman". The Sunday Times. London. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 
  12. ^ Holden, Stephen (August 18, 2009). "An Argentine Film by Lucrecia Martel Shows the Convenience of Forgetting". The New York Times. 
  13. ^ "La Mujer sin Cabeza (The Headless Woman) (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 20, 2013. 
  14. ^ "The Headless Woman". Metacritic. Retrieved October 20, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Lucrecia Martel es la mejor directora de cine de 2009". Diario Uno. January 1, 2010. Retrieved November 3, 2011. 
  16. ^ "PREMIO SUR - 2008 - Ganadores" (in Spanish). Argentine Academy of Cinematography Arts and Sciences Awards. Retrieved November 3, 2011. 
  17. ^ "PREMIO SUR - 2008 - Nominaciones" (in Spanish). Argentine Academy of Cinematography Arts and Sciences. Retrieved November 3, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Official Selection 2008 : In Competition". Festival de Cannes. Retrieved November 3, 2011. 
  19. ^ "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]