Love is a very emotional, tricky thing. I don't have to
tell anyone this as though it's some big realization I came
to while watching the new Spanish import Sex and Lucia.
What the film does is make love into a twisty thrill ride.
Love, as portrayed by this film, is something that can seem
so normal and so liberating at one moment and so troubling
and horrifying the next. This shouldn't be anything new to
anyone who has been in a relationship of any kind, either.
But this is a film that tells of the pitfalls and mountain
tops of love through the senses. We feel the confusion and
the exhilaration with the characters as they're living it.
And did I mention the love scenes? Needless to say, Sex
and Lucia is a prime example of the European style of
filmmaking that doesn't have to pull punches when it comes
to the intimacy of its situations. It's these themes within
this style, as well as a fantastically sexy cast, that puts
such a captivating spell on the audience.
Lucia (Paz Vega) is a woman who enters the film with not
much background but with a face that says it all. She's a
waitress at a restaurant who is apparently stalking the very
famous author, Lorenzo (Tristan Ulloa) She approaches him
in a very frank manner and what follows is even franker (A
real word? You be the judge): They pursue a whirlwind sexual
experience with Lorenzo disappearing in a quicker fashion
than the way he entered. This involves another story that
the audience member is not sure to trust as fact or fiction.
Lorenzo meets a woman on an island off the coast of Spain
and carries on a torrid affair. The woman, who we later learn
is Elena (Najwa Nimri), becomes pregnant from the experience
and we see her have the child who she names Luna, or "moon"
in Spanish. I only mention this because weird things happen
when Luna and a full moon appears in the same frame. Get the
symbolism now? She raises Luna in Madrid where Lorenzo finds
out about her and decides to try to enter her life. While
this begins as innocent, it becomes far more complicated as
he becomes intertwined with their entire family. We aren't
sure if this is fiction or not because Lorenzo begins typing
on his keyboard once these scenes begin and he narrates it
as though it is literature. Towards the climax of the film,
Lucia feels more like an illusion in the initial story than
anything else. But I assure you that it's far more complicated
in the plot's structure than I can describe here.
But the message of the film is very clear, despite the turns
that Sex and Lucia takes. The island that Lorenzo calls
as sanctuary and which acts as the pivotal point for every
relationship in the film is a very dangerous and treacherous
place. Kind of like how love is very dangerous and treacherous.
There are sinkholes everywhere, caves hide underneath light
sheets and sand, and the island itself doesn't connect to
the ocean floor at any spot. This place is as fragile and
volatile as any relationship in the entire film. The purpose
of this film is to show how love feels. We get the
sense of vertigo as lovers stand on the cliffs of the ocean.
When something turns out to be what it does not seem, the
photography becomes convoluted and distorted. In the various
story lines, Sex and Lucia shows the joy and the passion
of love. Indeed, the sex scenes in the film may be some of
the most playful, for lack of a better word, than anything
in the past ten years. But, in the very next scene, the pain
is just as easily conveyed: childbirth, the death of a family
member, the pain that goes with the memory of a former flame.
These scenes are intercut with each to give those watching
it the full throttle of the experiences of the characters.
These themes are consistent as well as the symbolism that
is interwoven throughout. The film does well to remember that
it's story is tricky and hard to follow. It's able to take
the imagery of the island, of the houses, and of the relationships.
This is a solid story told by exemplary filmmaker Julio Medam
who gave the international scene an equally interesting Lovers
of the Acrtic Circle.
And if sex is your thing, this film will work as well. At
worst, the scenes are so explicit that they take away from
the emotional impact of the film. Sometimes these moments
stretch to be considered as artistic in the same vein as all
the others it shares celluloid space. But, a little too much
skin is not enough to dock Sex and Lucia for what it
really is: One of the first romantic thrill rides of the decade.