Bursting with feral energy, Tamae Garateguy's She Wolf (original title: Mujer Lobo) is a fever dream about sex and love and sex and then a little more sex. And then the screaming starts.
Sceenwriter Diego Fleischer, working from Garateguy's idea, constructs a skeleton of a story about a woman who struts through the streets and subways of Buenos Aires, Argentina, turning heads wherever she goes. Frankly, she doesn't have to work too hard. It's as though she walks around in a heady cloud of pheromones, and the men come to her like hungry puppy dogs.
The sexual encounters that follow are naked, grasping, grappling power plays, in which the men assume that they're in control, blind to the reality that the woman has manipulated them into the situation that will lead to their doom. The very first sequence of the film establishes the sex / death pattern, and the balance of the running time is devoted almost exclusively to these primal forces.
Because of the shirt-grabbing nature of its sometimes bewildering story and lead character(s), She Wolf is difficult to write about without venturing into spoiler territory.
But it's fair to say that the same qualities that are appealing -- the raw sexual energy, the feisty emotional interchanges between men and women, the intense, character-based focus -- also become liabilities when the film paints itself into a corner.
Bolstered by Sami Buccella's original punk rock music on the soundtrack, Catalina Rincon's slashing editing, and Pigu Gomez' stark photography -- presented in arresting black and white -- She Wolf generates an abundance of heat and momentum. Garateguy stages the lengthy sexual encounters in a bracingly intimate manner. Having built up such an (un)healthy head of steam, though, the film begins acting out like an adolescent with surging hormones. In one sense, the woman's character is examined, but too much ground is left uncovered to make for a satisfactory trip.
The film's "slice of a killer's life" approach is novel, the sexual angle is brazen, and the punk spirit is unflagging, showcasing an unruly and utterly fresh perspective on serial killers in the modern day. Beware, men of Buenos Aires.
She Wolf screened at Fantastic Fest yesterday and will screen again on Tuesday, September 24.