SEX AND LUCIA
Lucía (Pax Vega) is a young Madrid waitress living with Lorenzo (Tristán Ulloa), who suffers from writer’s block. Finally he decides he’s too screwed up and leaves her in dramatic fashion. She soon receives a phone call from the police advising her that Lorenzo has been in a car accident; without waiting to hear what she knows is the worst, she hangs up and though distressed, flees to the secluded Mediterranean island Lorenzo had often talked about. She reflects on her relationship with Lorenzo – and his attempt to write a novel using his own experiences - while staying in a guest house run by Elena (Majwa Nimri), whose only other guest is scuba diver Carlos (Daniel Freire).
Review by Louise Keller:
Sex and Lucia (pronounced loo-see-ya) may be a beguiling title, but writer/director Julio Medem’s ambitious, risky and somewhat pretentious film is a blend of hit and miss, as he explores issues about love, passion and sex through an obtuse and often frustrating narrative. It’s a reflective story that is a jumble of time frames, realities, fantasies and ideas that somehow come together at the end – more or less – as Medem weighs up the
pros and cons of having wild sex with a stranger as opposed to wild sex with someone you love. This is a story where coincidence and chance play more of a role than does logic. The real characters are intertwined and immersed with those in Lorenzo’s novel, but as the novel takes its inspiration from real events and people, don’t expect to understand everything that is going on. Even director David Lynch may have difficulty to put all the pieces together. Medem’s last film – Lovers of the Arctic Circle – was a more complete work than this one, sharing some of the elements, but the former had a greater sense of melancholy, poetry and romance. Sex is the star of Sex and Lucia, and whether Medem’s treatment of the sex scenes with its full nudity, erect penises and almost hard-core erotica is essential for the telling of the story, is questionable. Some may call it steamy, others gratuitous – but there is no doubt that everyone will have an opinion on this. There is one scene in which a naked (aroused) man on the beach, is totally covered by mud. He then covers Lucia’s naked body also with the mud. Why? The cast is superb, and it’s no wonder that newcomer Pax Vega was awarded the Goya for Best New Actress. Vega has a sensuality that is countered by her innocent vulnerability, reminding me of a cross between Winona Ryder and Salma Hayek. Physically stunning, Vega wears her nudity nonchalantly, and Medem delights in the physicality of all his cast. But structurally, the film itself is very frustrating and the constant use of symbolic imagery with the sun and moon particularly irritating. There is an interesting juxtaposition of events through editing, and I do like the haunting theme that lingers throughout, like a never-ending waltz. The island location is quite spectacular with its white, white sand, deep blue ocean and craggy rocks, but Sex and Lucia never satisfies, with its parts ultimately more satisfying than its whole.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It’s instructive and relevant to read that filmmaker Julio Medem was first inspired by Formentera, the small island off Spain, during a vacation. He felt it would be a great location for a film and then began developing the idea of a character, Lucia, escaping to this remote but beautiful spot. I can imagine how he may have felt; writers and musicians have often taken inspiration from the vibe of a beautiful spot. At the same time, Medem began to work on a novel, El Sexo (Sex), which he later turned into a script. And he then joined that script to the story and script of Lucia. Hence the title. And hence the film: it plays just as haphazardly put together as this short outline of its genesis suggests. Medem would have been better advised to stick to Lucia’s story and develop his theme of her escaping to be alone as a means of rediscovering herself, after Lorenzo, a writer of sorts, leaves her. The Sex section, as it were, might have made a second film and is really irrelevant to Lucia – indeed, she’s not in any of the hard core sex scenes that make up the Sex part of this strange double yoke affair. Linked as it is to a girl whose mother is a porn actress, the part of the film presented as Sex, itself comes perilously close to porn, not just because it shows bits of porn footage with daughter emulating mum on screen except with a dildo instead of a real man with the real thing. But because we are hard pressed to engage emotionally with the characters – which is basically the difference between pornography and romantic sex. To be brutally honest, the film bored me; I didn’t so much lose interest as never got interested; I was distanced even from the earliest scenes, when Lucia is abandoned by a seemingly self centred and uninteresting Lorenzo. Within seven minutes of the opening, Lucia is on the island, having left Madrid and talking out loud to explain to us how she feels, wanting to be alone. Medem seems to have fallen between two stools – his Lucia story and a wild sexual romp - and is unable to make the connection work; nor is his screenplay vibrant enough as character study. The moon gets a workout (tired as it is as a symbol) and seems to be in the house of the rising son, not sun, as bodies fornicate or stimulate themselves, each other – yet not us. Weepy strings and a generally maudlin mood to the soundtrack helped drive me further away from the film, despite the excellent performances. The only ‘real’ character for me is Lorenzo’s empathetic literary agent, Pepe, played by the talented Javier Camara (who is so memorable as Benigno in Pedro Almodovar’s Talk To Her).
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SEX AND LUCIA (R18+)
Lucía y el sexo
CAST: Paz Vega, Tristán Ulloa, Najwa Nimri, Daniel Freire, Elena Anaya, Javier Cámara, Silvia Llanos, Diana Suárez, Juan Fernández
PRODUCER: Fernando Bovaira, Enrique López Lavigne
DIRECTOR: Julio Medem
SCRIPT: Julio Medem
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Kiko de la Ric
EDITOR: Iván Aledo
MUSIC: Alberto Iglesias
PRODUCTION DESIGN: (Art Direction) Montse Sanz
OTHER: 2002 Goya Awards – Best New Actress and Best Original Score
2002 Seattle International Film Festival – Emerging Master and Golden Space Needle Audience Award Best Directo
RUNNING TIME: 128 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Arclight/Rialto
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 31, 2003
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