Sex and Lucia (Luca y el Sexo)
Made in: Spain
Synopsis: Luca (Paz Vega) is a free-spirited waitress who’s trying to get over a bad breakup with her boyfriend Lorenzo (Tristn Ulloa), who’s a writer. When she hears that Lorenzo’s been in a car accident, she assumes he’s been killed.
Devastated, Luca takes a trip to the remote island off the Spanish mainland where she and Lorenzo used to go. While coming to terms with her loss and life, she meets Elena (Najwa Nimri), who runs a lodging house for visitors (kind of like a bed & breakfast).
The story then takes us back six years prior, and we learn about the intertwined histories of Luca, Lorenzo, and Elena, and the emotional entanglements that result. And while working on his latest novel, Lorenzo discovers that he’s the father of an illegitimate child.
As he later becomes intrigued with the child’s alluring nanny, Beln (Elena Anaya), Lorenzo’s real-life complications find themselves into his work and we’re treated to a complicated and often confusing tale of sex, romance, love triangles, jealousy…and cooking.
Remarks: At its core, Sex and Lucia is actually a pretty intriguing story with the blending of time, characters’ lives, fiction, and reality done in very creative ways. As it was with Lovers of the Arctic Circle (Los Amantes del Crculo Polar), Julio Medem once again makes a compelling drama about seriously dysfunctional people.
The coincidental, and seemingly impossible connections between characters, made me think of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive at times. But as confusing as it is, this mobius strip of a film somehow logically works itself out in the end. From a technical standpoint, the cinematography is great and the bright, stylized way that many of the exteriors are filmed give the film a lot of character.
However, the overall narrative of Sex and Lucia doesn’t quite live up to its juicy title. Sure, there is plenty of sex in the first half of the movie, but once the plot starts thickening the tone changes so much that you might wonder if you’re still watching the same film. And once that happens, the sex scenes from before start feeling out of place.
Don’t get me wrong. As a guy, I have no problem with seeing Paz Vega and Elena Anaya in the buff. But after I (eventually) discovered that this story was indeed a deep psychological drama (as opposed to a porno disguised as art), I think this film could have worked fine without the gratuitous nudity and shameless boob shots.
Furthermore, Paz Vega’s character Luca is not as central to the entire story as we’re led to believe, so I’m not sure the title is all that accurate. And if I’m not mistaken, the slinky red dress that Vega wears on the Sex and Lucia movie poster (and DVD cover) isn’t actually seen in the film.
Who would like this movie: You’ll like the first half of Sex and Lucia if you’re the type who’s too embarrassed to rent porn from your local video store because you’re worried that the sales clerk or other customers in line will think you’re some kind of pervert.
But when the actual story kicks in, this movie should appeal to fans of foreign films and those who appreciate complex, psychological narratives. But the contrast between the first and second halves are jarring, and will most likely color your overall expectations/impressions of the film.
(2 and 1/2 out of 4 stars)
Director: Julio Medem
Starring: Paz Vega, Tristn Ulloa, Najwa Nimri, Daniel Freire, Elena Anaya
Joe Yang is a freelance film reviewer specializing in foreign films. You can find more reviews of foreign dramas at his website: http://www.foreign-films-for-you.com/international-movies.html
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