Sex And Lucia

Julio Medem's stupendously gorgeous puzzle movie features strong performances from its four leads, who must simultaneously portray real characters and their counterparts in a novel that draws heavily on the author's life. Waitress Lucia (Paz Vega) returns home to find her deeply depressed boyfriend, Lorenzo (Tristan Ulloa), gone and a policeman on the phone....read more

Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
Rating:

Julio Medem's stupendously gorgeous puzzle movie features strong performances from its four leads, who must simultaneously portray real characters and their counterparts in a novel that draws heavily on the author's life. Waitress Lucia (Paz Vega) returns home to find her deeply depressed boyfriend, Lorenzo (Tristan Ulloa), gone and a policeman on the phone. Lucia listens just long enough to hear that Lorenzo's been hit by a car before slamming down the phone, packing her bag and decamping for the isolated Mediterranean island of which Lorenzo often spoke, convinced it holds the answers to his demons. There Lucia meets Carlos (Daniel Freire), a diver, and his casual lover Elena (Najwa Nimri), who runs a beachfront guest house and seems to be harboring her own secret. A flashback reveals Lorenzo's spectacular one-night stand with Elena six years earlier, beneath a luminous full moon. Lorenzo and Elena kept their encounter anonymous, though she knows he's from Madrid and that it's his birthday. When Elena realizes she's pregnant, she relocates to Madrid in hopes of finding her baby's father; there she gives birth to a daughter she names Luna (Silvia Llanos). Lorenzo, meanwhile, is approached in a bar by Lucia, who's so besotted with his first novel that she's been secretly stalking him. She proposes that they move in together. He, stunned by her boldness, agrees and against all odds, their sexually charged relationship seems to work until Lorenzo learns of Luna's existence and begins hanging around the park where babysitter Belen (Elena Anaya) takes the child to play. Lorenzo and Belen, whose mother (Diane Sudrez) is a retired porn star, develop their own erotic relationship. Throughout, Lorenzo's long-suffering agent suggests that he combat his paralyzing writer's block by working these sensational experiences into a novel. The question is, how much of what we're seeing is Lorenzo's novel, and how much is his real life? The film's key image is Lucia falling into a hole in the sand, like Alice down the rabbit's hole. It echoes Lorenzo's assertion that the best kind of novel is like a game of chutes and ladders, where you can always slide back and follow a different path. Medem's mind games are familiar but handsomely executed, but it's the film's frankly erotic content that ensured its notoriety even before its European release. The nudity and fevered sex scenes are, however, an integral part of its sensually febrile atmosphere, which renders fleshy curves and a field of swaying seaweed equally intoxicating. (In Spanish, with subtitles)

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