Since director Julio Medem's last picture, THE LOVERS OF THE ARCTIC
CIRCLE (LOS AMANTES DEL CÍRCULO POLAR), was one of my absolute favorite
films of 1999, I was waiting with eager anticipation for his latest,
SEX AND LUCIA (LUCÍA Y EL SEXO). My reaction in a word: disappointment.
His last movie was poetically romantic and full of indelible images,
but his latest has nothing going for it other than the graphic sex,
which, as I'll discuss below, isn't the least bit erotic.
The story's lead, Lucía (Paz Vega), has fallen in love with Lorenzo
(Tristán Ulloa), a novelist who is having trouble writing his current
book. Once she comes up to him in a cafe and proposes that they live
together, his life changes forever. After that, the novel begins
to affect his life, or is it the other way around? Maybe his life
and his book are one and the same. It's hard to tell in this increasingly confusing tale.
The film has an ugly and distracting look, thanks to Medem's decision
to shoot it on digital video. Vega, whom I have no doubt is beautiful
in person or on film, has a grayish skin color in the movie that makes
her look like a piece of raw meat that hasn't been refrigerated.
Since film looks so much better than today's digital video, filmmakers
should shoot in digital only if they just can't afford the real thing
or if they are George Lucas.
The movie spends much of its time in sex scenes, and Vega appears
completely nude almost as often as she is dressed. This might sound
like the movie would be a turn on, but it never is. For a movie that
would clearly get an NC-17 rating were it to be rated, the surprise
is how little we are shown. The filmmakers appear to be embarrassed
by sex because whenever they show something explicit, it is edited
so fast that, if you blink, you'll miss it. The movie is a constant
tease. In one outdoor scene, they make us think we are going to get
a Sharon Stone moment, but then they cut away at the last second.
There just isn't a single erotic incident, which would be the only
reason to see this otherwise uninteresting and bewildering story.
This much you do have to give the picture. It is perhaps the first
one that attempts a sexual mud bath.
SEX AND LUCIA runs way too long at 2:08. The film is in Spanish with
English subtitles. It is not rated but would be NC-17 for explicit
sex, nudity and language and would be acceptable for those over seventeen.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes