The Holy Girl ★★★★½

I've now seen Martel's three features, and her fourth can't come soon enough. Asymmetrical framing, an eye for sensual detail that rivals Denis, and a capacity to use minimalist narrative not to make the audience fill in all the details but to gently draw focus to what she prioritizes all make her one of the most exciting filmmakers working despite the placid, sometimes lethargic tone her movies can take. This film, about a young, pious girl whose desire to show the older man who gropes her the error of his ways while also grappling with the sexual desire it stirs in her pubescent mind, approaches sexuality with such complexity that despite a relatively event-free narrative, I'd need to watch it several more times to unpack its observations. So many filmmakers fear to treat sexuality, especially that of a teenage girl, honestly, and frankly most should, since they reduce it to Madonna/whore binaries that this movie sets up, then erodes. Martel has the confidence and the depth to capture its contradictions, which naturally only makes it more vile that an old man tried to take advantage of them.