Film Review: Zama

There are some film directors who seem to churn out several films per year (I’m looking at you Takeshi Miike) whilst others consistently deliver every year or two. Whether by choice, being distracted by other artforms or through a painstaking production process, a small group are much less prolific. Paul Thomas Anderson is a prime example of this. However, compared to Lucrecia Martel he’s almost productive. We’ve had to wait nine years for her new film Zama.

Don Diego de Zama (Daniel Giménez Cacho) is a Corregidor, a local judicial and administrative officer, stationed at a remote South American colony. He is waiting patiently for a letter from the Spanish king allowing him to transfer somewhere more salubrious. In order to achieve this, he must ensure that he appeases a number of governors, who come and go, whilst avoiding the murderous intentions of an infamous local bandit.

Zama is a colonial conspiracy which plays-out like something from the pen of Franz Kafka. It’s wonderfully shot by Rui Poças, who captures the beauty and the banality perfectly. The heat and the hopelessness seep through the camera. Cacho is superb as the lead; allowing Zama’s stoicism to slowly degenerate into madness. Zama is a richly textured and delicately spun portrait of a man on the precipice of sanity.

Zama is in cinemas from Friday.

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