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Sex and Lucía

December 18, 2013

Sex and Lucía (2001)
Director: Julio Médem
Actors: Paz Vega, Tristán Ulloa, Najwa Nimri

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Synopsis: Lucía (Paz Vega) flees to a mysterious Balearic island after assuming her writer boyfriend, Lorenzo (Tristán Ulloa), has died. There she comes across Elena (Najwa Nimri) and begins to unpick how her present circumstances merge with Lorenzo’s past life and quite possibly his writing too….

Review: While other critics get bogged down in the pandora’s box of trying to explain Sex and Lucía’s labyrinthine, fantastical narrative (which, in my opinion, is a “red herring” and largely counterintuitive sentiment), I prefer to submit to the film’s mysteriousness and sensuality, and if anything I derive meaning from looking at the film, rather than reading it.

In some senses, it’s a Freudian, subconscious essay on sex, dreams and the creative process. Writer Lorenzo is, if you like, the scientific ‘control’ around which all the film’s cerebral baggage is spun, and the three women in his life (and related sexual encounters) represent the different ends of the psychoanalytical spectrum. Elena (the woman with whom Lorenzo fathers a daughter – symbolically called “Luna”) is the life-giver, the maternal character; Lucía represents sex as a form of love and rapture; and Belén acts as the licentious, reckless, deathly end of the spectrum, as Lorenzo’s encounter with her leads to the one great tragedy in the narrative.

Julio Médem finds a suitably languorous, dreamy palette for all this metaphysical posturing. I had to laugh at Roger Ebert’s rather literal-minded comments in his review of the film, where he chastised Médem for the hi-def, bleached out digital cinematography, as he feels it fails to offer a visual clarity to the sequences on the island. I thought the complete opposite; I see it as a spectacular visual coupThe white, scorched look of the film imprints the sun/moon themes in the story so well, and lends even more air to the work’s already dreamlike, fablistic quality. (December 2013)

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