Sex And Lucia

on July 12, 2002 by Chris Wiegand
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   Julio Medem's latest is an elliptical piece of erotica--a sublime study of sexuality often reminiscent of his last movie, “The Lovers Of The Arctic Circle.” Lucía (Paz Vega) is a waitress in Madrid. Lorenzo (Tristán Ulloa) is an unstable author and Lucía's lover. It is his apparent death in the film's opening minutes that leads Lucía to leave town for a remote island, where she reassesses their six-year relationship and begins to unravel her departed partner's secrets and lies.

   The third principal character, as the title suggests, is sex itself, ever-present and central to Lucía and Lorenzo's relationship. And if any of the characters are shown in depth, it is this third one. While Medem's typically tangled plot and enigmatic style of storytelling may distance the average spectator, his broad and frank portrayal of the lead couple's sexual relations is sure to captivate. Not to mention titillate. Taking in exhibitionism, onanism and voyeurism, sex is shown as being tender, risky, realistic and sometimes just plain old fun, as Lucía and Lorenzo blindfold, photograph and strip for each other to the sensuous baroque sound of Alberto Iglesias, composer of Medem's previous film as well as “All About My Mother.”

   With its splintered narrative, its little mysteries and the key characters' search for truth, the film becomes a study not only of sexuality but also of storytelling and the volatile relationship between fact and fiction--two of many opposites embraced by the unorthodox director. As with Medem's earlier work, the romantic and provocative style of magical realism is present throughout, with stark, potent imagery (most of it sexual) at the forefront. Vega and Ulloa give strong performances as the leading lovers and there are some strong supporting turns, particularly from Najwa Nimri, previously seen alongside Ulloa in Alejandro Amenábar's “Abre Los Ojos.” Starring Paz Vega, Tristán Ulloa, Najwa Nimri and Silvia Llanos. Directed and written by Julio Medem. Produced by Fernando Bovaira and Enrique López Lavigne. Spanish-language; subtitled. No distributor set. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 128 min

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