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Sex and Lucia

(Lucia y el Sexo)

Sex and Lucia explodes off the screen in a convoluted story and a series of intensely erotic and explicit sex scenes. By the time the movie is over, the story still makes no sense, but the sense of confusion over it is refreshing in an exhilarating way. Spain obviously like it, since it garnered two wins (Best New Actress - Paz Vega, and Best Original Score) out of over ten nominations for the Goya Awards, the Spanish equivalent of the Academy Awards (the nominated fields included every major thing - including two supporting actresses, best actor, director, film, and screenplay). Julio Medem (Lovers of the Arctic Circle, Tierra) wrote and directed Sex and Lucia, and cast probably the most photogenic cast in recent memory, and to their credit, they look stunningly hot and can act too. The story has two main threads, one taking place in the present, and one taking place six years earlier leading up to the present. What is clear is that Lorenzo (Tristan Ulloa, Don't Cry Germaine, Km. 0) is famous author with writer's block. Years ago, he had a one-night stand with Elena (Najwa Nimri, Before Night Falls, Open Your Eyes). She had a daughter, but he doesn't know this.

In the present, Lorenzo's relationship with Lucia (Vega, Nobody Knows Anybody, I Will Survive) is just over. Lucia cannot stand Lorenzo anymore, and he now realizes how much he needs her. After a phone call from the police, Lucia believes Lorenzo is dead and goes to the island that inspired Lorenzo's writing to search for some sort of catharsis. There, she rents a room in a boarding house and spends the day traveling around the island. Medem then flashes back and shows the how Lucia and Lorenzo got together. Lucia was a huge fan of Lorenzo's first book, and she essentially threw herself at him. Their initial relationship consisted mostly of sex, which Medem filmed in unnecessarily graphic detail, as is the style in Europe these days. This can show any number of things; how tenuous their relationship is, how strong their relationship can be based on so little, or how spontaneous and free Lucia is. Their relationship begins to crumble as Lorenzo's novel fails to materialize on a timely basis.

Lorenzo works in the school of thought where he writes what he knows. This is where things get especially confusing, especially as the movie moves into its third act. As the sex with Lucia becomes more intense, his novel heats up with similar situations. So is he writing what is happening to him, or is he imagining what he wishes would happen? He begins to incorporate Belen (Elena Anaya, Fading Memories, Where the World Ends) into his novel. Belen, Lorenzo learns, is taking care of his daughter Luna (Silvia Llanos). He spends time with Belen because she spends time with Luna, but eventually their relationship becomes much closer. Some of the twists and relationships that exist between the characters become a little along the lines of a bad soap opera, but this is forgivable since Medem goes about it so stylistically. Everything turns back on itself, and everybody, sooner or later, comes back. Things begin getting extremely confusing, and there are multiple ways to interpret the ending, each one satisfying. Watching Sex and Lucia requires some thought, since things flash by quickly that have meaning later.

Visually, Sex and Lucia is enthralling. Filming sex is difficult, adding the element of eroticism especially so. Lucia and Lorenzo (and everyone else) literally attack each other in bed, moaning, writhing, stripping, and playing with all sorts of things to sultry music by Alberto Iglesias (All About My Mother, Lovers of the Artic Circle). Medem films in such a way that parts of Sex and Lucia look like a dream, and this doesn't help understanding the movie any better. The island represents a happier time for Lorenzo, which is why Lucia goes there. On the island, the camera emphasizes the sun; everything is incredibly bright. It is as if nobody can hide anything, and the sun can cleanse away anything bad. And Medem isn't just using graphic sex to lure people in. The most explicit stuff tones down after the first half hour or so, and Medem then takes time to flesh out the characters more. Lorenzo is dealing with paternal instincts, Lucia with love, and Elena with betrayal. The characters quickly learn that they need more than superficial things for happiness. By the end, aside from the mass feeling of confusion and awe, it's also clear that at heart, Medem is a romantic.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
2 hours, 8 minutes, Spanish with English subtitles, Not Rated but constains nudity and fairly explicit sexual situations, an easy NC-17.

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