October 22, 2014
Sex-crazed she-wolf at large in the subway
For the Herald
A surprising variation on the werewolf myth is introduced in Mujer lobo (She Wolf), the new movie by Argentine filmmaker Tamae Garateguy.
The lead character is indeed a she- wolf serial killer who hunts down men along different stations in Buenos Aires’ subway tunnels.
She seduces them with her bewitching looks, has wild sex with them, and then slays them. Too bad one of the men she’s trying to lure is a policeman investigating the murders. Not that he knows that she’s a she-wolf, of course.
So on a frantic day, while trying to escape from the policeman, she meets a streetwise young dealer with whom she falls in love right away. Now her newborn feelings become an unexpected downside because she actually has three personalities: monster woman, sexual woman, and human still capable of loving. And because of her intense love, her personalities start to collide in a fierce death battle.
Shot in eye-catching black and white, Mujer lobo is a rara avis in Argentine cinema. Doubtless, it’s Garateguy’s finest film to date. Her 2007 opera prima Upa!, una película argentina, co-directed with Santiago Giralt and Camila Toker, was an amusing and light weighted take on the scenario of Argentine indie cinema. Then came her solo début, Pompeya (2011), a gangster film set in Buenos Aires, and also a meditation on the process of screenwriting. And while Upa! and Pompeya had undeniably dexterous formal values, they tended to go somewhat overboard with flashy camerawork and too brisk editing.
But not this time. Garateguy’s third feature is far more accomplished in the way form relates to content. For the action sequences, the camera is energetic and dazzling, and it truly captures and conveys the characters’ pulse and sensations. At nerve-wracking speed, it follows them wherever they go, and so a sense of sparkling spectacle is achieved. Let alone the intensely sexual and erotic scenes that are never gratuitous. Instead, they provide the raw power Mujer lobo is endowed with.
As for the seduction scenes, the pace is relaxed and welcoming, as though trying to tempt viewers into familiarity with the sex-crazed, deadly she-wolf. Who, by the way, is played to great effect by Mónica Lairana, Guadalupe Docampo, and Luján Ariza, each of them a different kind of woman, all of them gorgeous. No wonder the men in this movie are so easily entrapped.
The script’s most visible flaw is a certain lack of development to make the whole affair more compelling.
These characters could have had more depth, more shades and perhaps even a background story. As it is, Mujer lobo sometimes does wear thin and becomes a bit repetitive, but for the most part it is quite enjoyable, entertaining, and very sensorial.
Mujer lobo (Argentina, 2013). Directed by Tamae Garateguy. Screenplay by Diego Fleischer. Executive production: Jimena Monteoliva. Cinematography: Pigu Gomez ADF. Editing: Catalina Rincón. Sound design: Erico Schick. Art direction: Marina Spinelli. Music: Sami Buccella, performed by RIP. With: Mónica Lairana, Luján Ariza, Guadalupe Docampo, Edgardo Castro, Nicolás Goldschmidt, Guillermo Pfenning, Germán De Silva, Hernán Bustos, Miguel Forza de Paul, Javier de Pietro. Running time: 92 minutes.@pablsuarez