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La Madre Muerta
Time Out says
This follow-up to Ulloa's little-seen Butterfly Wings displays a notable aesthetic rigour and intellectual clarity. Without such formal discipline, this psychological thriller might have spilled over into dubious exploitation, but like his haunted protagonist, the director/co-writer always pulls back from the brink. Entering a house late one night, a thief shoots dead the mother of a child, who stares in silent witness to his crime. Ten years later, the thief, Ismael (Elejalde), spots a mute, seemingly autistic teenage girl in the garden of a Madrid hospital. Gripped by an irrational fear of disclosure, he abducts Leire (Alvarez) and holds her prisoner in the semi-derelict house he shares with his possessive girlfriend Maite (Lio). Jealous of their captive's womanly body, Maite favours walking her in front of a train, but the initially resolute Ismael suggests blackmail instead. The fact that Leire, a helpless child trapped in a woman's body, is fetishistically manacled to a bed lends a dangerous, almost perverse erotic edge to some scenes. Bound to her by guilt, however, Ismael is also paralysed by her innocence, a purity he cannot defile, which he believes may yet redeem him. Twisted and tender.