The Holy Girl (La Nina Santa)


Review by Harriet Robbins

With THE HOLY GIRL, writer/director Lucrecia Martel brings forth another gem. Following her award-winning debut film La Cienaga (The Swamp), Martel enters the hearts and minds of two teenaged girls awash in religious fervor and sexual awakening as they innocently follow their desires into the adult world, with dramatic and tragic results.

In this sensitive film, it's not just young people who are involved as the drama is played out in a run-down hotel where a medical convention is taking place. Helena, a divorced mother of teenaged Amelia finds herself attracted to the same doctor that her daughter has encountered. From this simple setup a complex tale unfolds as passion is ignited and eventually explodes.

Martel's approach brings the reality of truth to the surface and shows that ofttimes innocent events can lead to devastating consequences.

The film brought to mind the play and movie by Lillian Hellman, The Children's Hour, about two teens in a girls' boarding school whose fantasies wreak havoc with tragic results.

Martel states in an interview that while THE HOLY GIRL is a tale about good and evil, it's not about the confrontation between them but about the difficulties in distinguishing one from the other.

The HBO/Fine Line feature was produced in Argentina by Lita Stanio in association with Pedro Almodovar's production company, El Deseo. Look for the DVD.