38 user 78 critic

The Holy Girl (2004)

La niña santa (original title)
R | | Drama | 6 May 2004 (Argentina)
16-year-old Amalia looks to save the soul of a middle-aged doctor.


Lucrecia Martel


Juan Pablo Domenech (contributing writer), Lucrecia Martel

On Disc

at Amazon

4 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »


Learn more

More Like This 

Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

After hitting something with her car, a bourgeois Argentine woman's life slowly descends into paranoia and isolation, as she fears she may have killed someone.

Director: Lucrecia Martel
Stars: María Onetto, Claudia Cantero, Inés Efron
La Ciénaga (2001)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The life of two women and their families in a small provincial town of Salta, Argentina.

Director: Lucrecia Martel
Stars: Mercedes Morán, Graciela Borges, Martín Adjemián
Zama (2017)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Based on the novel by Antonio Di Benedetto written in 1956, on Don Diego de Zama, a Spanish officer of the seventeenth century settled in Asunción, who awaits his transfer to Buenos Aires.

Director: Lucrecia Martel
Stars: Daniel Giménez Cacho, Lola Dueñas, Matheus Nachtergaele
Documentary | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5/10 X  

Under the creative direction of Gael Garcia Bernal, ten award-winning directors tell the story of the high school dropout crisis in Latin America in an anthology of narrative and ... See full summary »

Directors: Flávia Castro, Mariana Chenillo, and 9 more credits »
Stars: Gael García Bernal, Estefania Piñeres
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
Directors: Daniel Burman, Israel Adrián Caetano, and 9 more credits »
Stars: Martín Adjemián, Carlos Aldana, Oscar Alegre
Dead King (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A wife tries to leave her village to get away from her abusive husband.

Director: Lucrecia Martel
Stars: Roly Serrano, Sandra Ceballos, Carlos Aldana
Leagues (2015)
Short | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  

Members of an indigenous community in Argentina dedicated to grazing cows claim the acres of land from their ranch appropriated by the local landowner illegally.

Director: Lucrecia Martel
Stars: Gael García Bernal
Los Muertos (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Vargas, a 54 year old man, gets out of jail in the prvince of Corrientes, Argentina. Once released, he wants to find his now adult daughter, who lives in a swampy and remote area. To get ... See full summary »

Director: Lisandro Alonso
Stars: Argentino Vargas, Francisco Dornez, Yolanda Galarza
The Intruder (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

An emotionally cold man leaves the safety of his Alpine home to seek a heart transplant and an estranged son.

Director: Claire Denis
Stars: Michel Subor, Grégoire Colin, Yekaterina Golubeva
Director: Lucrecia Martel
Muta (2011)
Short | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

In this contemporary film noir, an elegant crew of female creatures emerges insect-like from portals on board a ship anchored in a tropical sea, their faces obscured from view. The beings ... See full summary »

Director: Lucrecia Martel
Stars: María Alche, Julia Anderson, Cecilia Barrios
Short | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.6/10 X  
Director: Lucrecia Martel
Stars: Julieta Laso, Fidela Carrizo, Jorgelina Contrera


Cast overview, first billed only:
Mercedes Morán ... Helena
Carlos Belloso Carlos Belloso ... Dr. Jano
Alejandro Urdapilleta Alejandro Urdapilleta ... Freddy
María Alche María Alche ... Amalia
Julieta Zylberberg ... Josefina
Mía Maestro ... Inés
Marta Lubos Marta Lubos ... Mirta
Arturo Goetz Arturo Goetz ... Dr. Vesalio
Alejo Mango Alejo Mango ... Dr. Cuesta
Mónica Villa ... Madre de Josefina
Leandro Stivelman Leandro Stivelman ... Julian
Manuel Schaller Manuel Schaller ... Thermin player
Miriam Diaz Miriam Diaz ... Miriam
Rodolfo Cejas Rodolfo Cejas ... Josefina's father
Maria Victoria Mosca Coll Maria Victoria Mosca Coll ... Local girl


ENT physicians gather at a provincial hotel in Salta. The hotel owner, Helena, is subdued, brittle, avoiding the calls of her ex-husband's pregnant wife. Family dysfunction seems everywhere. Helena's daughter, Amalia, about 14, discusses vocations in a Catholic girls group. Their teen imaginations conflate the erotic, the religious, and the lurid. Amalia notices Dr. Jano, and he notices her. She decides to make him her vocation, she follows him, he rubs against her in a public crowd, he's appalled at his actions. Meanwhile, Helena believes Jano is attracted to her even though he's married. Longing, guilt, scandal, and teen sensuality are set to collide. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexual content and brief nudity | See all certifications »



Argentina | Italy | Netherlands | Spain



Release Date:

6 May 2004 (Argentina) See more »

Also Known As:

The Holy Girl See more »

Filming Locations:

Salta, Argentina


Box Office


$1,400,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$28,327, 1 May 2005

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


'La niña santa' (The Holy Girl) stars María Alché and is directed by Lucrecia Martel. Both Maria and Lucrecia graduated from the same film school, ENERC. See more »


Cara de Gitana
Written by AMRI / Justiniano Orquera / Rubén Lotes
Performed by Daniel Magal
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Accomplished film-making; lacks personality.
18 May 2005 | by DellySee all my reviews

I'm in general not a fan of Spanish-language cinema, for the same reason that I don't care for Russian classical music; it's usually overheated and unsubtle, telegraphing emotions like Yiddish theater. For every hypnotic or erotic sequence in Almodovar, there's another that's just juvenile and sub-Freudian ( like the little man crawling into the woman's privates in Talk to Her. ) Even Luis Bunuel had moments where the rigor slackens and he seems to say, "Aw, I'll just wing it."

Well, the rigor never slackens in The Holy Girl. This film would make Maurice Pialat feel like he was wearing a neck brace. Lucrecia Martel makes so few concessions in her film-making that even the most advanced and cosmopolitan film buffs will be bewildered by the effort of comprehension they're faced with here ( as they always will be when confronted with the spiritual, by the way. ) Martel, to her credit, is completely immune to any trends in Spanish-language, not to say Argentinian film-making, and doesn't truckle to any stereotypes about hot-blooded Latins either. This film is as cold-blooded, analytical and lofty as they come. She has been compared to Claire Denis, but she's much more like the aforementioned Pialat, structuring her film in "blocks," so that each scene starts in media res, making us readjust and grapple for our bearings. From Cassavetes she has also learned a lot, especially the way every single shot is filled with peripheral, incidental characters who appear and disappear at random, but who contribute a steady stream of ambient chatter and small talk that Martel uses as white noise to bury the important dialogue. This sharpens the audience's attention and makes them search each and every frame for the aural and visual clues they'll need to penetrate the symbolic thicket.

I'll admit that my primal instinct is to gush unreservedly over such brazen world-cinema ambitions, but in this case, there was something missing, some sense of spontaneity or original flair. Is it that I've seen too many art-movies that construct a pasteboard purgatory and try to make the audience and the filmmaker complicit in a feeling of superiority over and above the struggling souls depicted? There's a rush of symbols in this film -- the Theremin, the theatrical presentation, the temperature-controlled pool, the spritzes of air freshener, and many more -- that point to Martel's concern with the way people fake their own lives, or what they consider to be pleasures. But, perhaps due to the late date of 2005, 40-odd years on from the premiere of L'Avenntura at Cannes, this feels like a preestablished "theme" rather than an obsession. The jouissance-as-limbo framework, in fact, is really nothing at this date but shorthand for film festival quality that every self-respecting intellecto is supposed to automatically scratch their chins and snap their fingers about. And The Holy Girl is missing the distinctive personal feature that would put it over the top, whether it's the sky-high cringe factor of Dumont's 29 Palms, or the the male-gaze Lolita lust of Pialat's A Nos Amours. This film by contrast reminds me of certain dry-as-dust female professors I've had who pick over the corpse of To The Lighthouse but seem not to really be impassioned by it or anything else.

Then again, why am I insisting that a movie that's about passion has to be made with passion? I'm contradicting myself. Amalia, the titular holy girl, who we see masturbating and chasing after an older man, is not a real nymphet but actually much more like one of those female saints you read about who, racked with tumors, relish each moment of pain for the way it brings them closer to God. The catch is that, in this case, it's Amalia's puberty that serves as the tumor. What looks like the erotic raptures of a budding adolescent are actually paeans to God, who she sees as having sent her on a mission to save Dr. Janos from himself -- she conflates this feeling of the religious "purpose-driven life" with her own pubertal longings. But Martel makes sure to render her unclassifiable, immune from definitions, from psychology, even from humanity. She is, simply put, a non-sexual being ( I was about to say "defiantly non-sexual being" but she doesn't need to defy anyone, she is passively what she is, a glimmer of truth in a hive of fear and desperation. ) If Amalia directed this movie, it would be with exactly the same kind of disorienting, intensely-focused calm punctuated by fleeting mystical signs -- a testament to Martel's success, despite my reservations.

6 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 38 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed