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Review: Sex and Lucía

As a randy film about sexy people in gorgeous places being pushed and pulled by desire, it makes for an arousing good time.

Sex and Lucía
Photo: Lions Gate Films

Julio Medem’s Sex and Lucía, not surprisingly, boasts ample doses of both sex and Lucía, but its rather straightforward title doesn’t begin to intimate what a simultaneously confounding and enticing experience the film really is. This sumptuous, smoldering, and ultimately confusing fable begins in the middle, with Lucía (the fiery Paz Vega) fleeing her home after thinking her novelist boyfriend Lorenzo (Tristán Ulloa) has killed himself. The film’s first half jumps back and forth between the past and present, cross-cutting between the couple’s passionate first steps together (shot graphically, but not lewdly) and Lucía’s self-imposed exile on a mysterious island off the coast of Spain that Lorenzo spoke of reverently but refused to visit with her. The island, it turns out, is a land mass magically floating in the water, untethered to the sea bottom below, and seems to cast an amorous spell on its inhabitants. Years earlier, Lorenzo had a one-night stand with a stranger (Najwa Nimri) while visiting the island on his birthday, and it is revealed that his water-logged tryst resulted in a daughter. Struck by this sudden revelation, Lorenzo begins surreptitiously visiting the child, and the film, like the island at the heart of its tale, becomes unmoored. Hyper-sexual nannies, porn star mothers, well-endowed hunks, and a severely untrained dog come together to toss both Lorenzo and Lucía’s worlds upside down. Characters float in and out of both Lorenzo and Lucía’s lives and fantasies, and chance encounters and coincidences conspire to bring these loosely-related people together toward some greater revelation. What that might be, however, is never satisfactorily answered. Medem’s storytelling skills are significantly more jumbled and rudimentary than his gift for widescreen photography (buoyed by digital video that casts every outdoor scene in beautifully blooming white light) and knack for conveying the rapture of uninhibited lovemaking, and the film ends up being more entrancing mood piece than coherent narrative. As an exploration of the ways in which people’s responsibilities to each other are hopelessly intertwined with the responsibilities they have to themselves, Sex and Lucía winds up making very little logical sense. As a randy film about sexy people in gorgeous places being pushed and pulled (literally and figuratively) by desire, however, it makes for an arousing good time.

Cast: Paz Vega, Tristán Ulloa, Najwa Nimri, Daniel Freire, Elena Anaya, Javier Cámara, Silvia Llanos Director: Julio Medem Screenwriter: Julio Medem Distributor: Lions Gate Films Running Time: 128 min Rating: NR Year: 2002 Buy: Video, Soundtrack

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