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Dog Lady / La mujer de los perros – New Directors/New Films

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Dog Lady/La mujer de los perros
Directors / Screenwriters: Laura Citarella, Veronica Llinas
95 minutes, Argentina, 2015
North American Premiere
Thu 03/26/2015 6:30 PM
Walter Reade Theater, NYC

Costume designer: Carolina Sosa Loyola
Composer: Juana Molina
Cast: Veronica Llinas

“An indelible and quietly haunting study of a nameless woman (memorably played by co-director Verónica Llinás) living with a loyal pack of stray dogs in silent, self-imposed exile in the pampas on the edge of Buenos Aires…” [more at ND/NF] [Variety review] [THR review]

“I’m not even a dog person!” So he says. But this year Gavin Smith brought home not just one, but two, remarkable dog movies from last year’s deployments to Cannes and Rotterdam — White God and La Mujer de los Perros.

White God has a North American distributor for theatrical release, so I’ll focus on La Mujer.

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Verónica Llinás and Four Co-Stars

Made by “five women and twelve dogs, the majority female,” La Mujer de los Perros (Dog Lady) is an assured, finely wrought character study three years in the making, chronicling four seasons of a woman living wholly in the present, outside the market economy, with a loyal pack of canine companions.

The film opens with a soundscape of birdsong and dog-panting, and transitions to an idyll of sight and sound in which every sight is a painterly composition and every sound contributes to a symphonic whole.

La Mujer steers clear of sentimentality. The nameless protagonist evokes the hunter goddess Diana in costume and action — she’s a deadeye with a slingshot — but she lives in a very real world where one must hunt, find water, and seek health care to maintain even a bare subsistence living. I haven’t seen such a primal film performance since Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone.

The pacing is masterful, and the perspective Olympian, no more evident than in the heart-wrenching, long-lens final shot.

U.S. distributors, what are you waiting for?