Screenshot from PESCADOS/FISH (Lucrecia Martel, 2010)

A Fishy Little Curio: Lucrecia Martel’s PESCADOS (2010), with subtitles in English

Mediático presents below a version with English subtitles of a beguiling and funny short film that Argentine director Lucrecia Martel made for notodoFILMFEST (2010) and thereafter for online distribution.

PESCADOS / FISH by Lucrecia Martel (© 2010)

Pescados/Fish was written and directed by Martel, edited by María Onis, with sound, music and voices by sound artist and singer-songwriter Juana Molina.

Of course, this is an entirely fishy little curio, replete with classic, art-cinema, coy (or koi) withholding. Not everything you hear is translated in the subtitles, and any ridiculous resemblances to the storyline of La mujer sin cabeza/The Headless Woman are very probably purely coincidental, and thus critically indefensible… But, as the clippings below indicate, the themes and staging of this hypnotic short film can’t help but comically evoke the watery depths of much of Martel’s earlier work.

“[In La niña santa/The Holy Girl,] Martel stresses the sensuality of close quarters, the pool, the idle hours of the siesta, and late night.”

“As in La ciénaga[/The Swamp], water has a pride of place in the film’s symbology, with the splashes of the thermal pool adding one of the most indelible sound effects.”
[Dominique Russell, ‘Lucrecia Martel — a decidedly polyphonic cinema’, Jump Cut, No. 50, spring 2008]

“There’s plenty of mordant humour in Martel’s films: the title [of La mujer sin cabeza/The Headless Woman] is a waggish nod to B-movies; there’s a running joke about the state of Vero’s hair. But the dominant mood is dense with mystery and innuendo: why, for instance, do the women in the film keep talking about turtles in a local swimming pool?”
[Sukhdev Sandhu, ‘The Headless Woman, review’, The Daily Telegraph, February 18, 2010]

“I like to shoot in swimming pools, though, because it’s like a room, below the level of the ground, full of water. There are many similarities between the behavior of a body inside a swimming pool and out of the pool. Both are in an elastic space. It’s fluid. The sound outside and the waves inside the pool both touch you in the same way. I think there are a lot of similarities in perception—between being in a pool and being in the world.”
[‘An Interview with Lucrecia Martel, director of The Headless Woman’, by Chris Wisniewski, Reverse Shot, Issue 25, 2008]

“During the last Latin American Film Festival in London, during an interview with Maria Delgado, Martel accepted that the image of a fish tank was ‘quite perfect’ to characterize the particular atmosphere of her films. ‘In real life we live immersed in an elastic fluid, it might be water but also air. We usually forget that we are immersed in air’, she said.”
[Cecilia Sosa, ‘A Counter-narrative of Argentine Mourning: The Headless Woman (2008), directed by Lucrecia Martel’, Theory, Culture & Society, December 2009 vol. 26 no. 7-8 250-262]

This version with subtitles in English (by Catherine Grant) was made with the permission of the filmmaker. Warm thanks go to her, and to Cecilia Sosa. The original version is available online here.