[7 October 2010]
Sex and Lucía begins with the last, desperate gasps of a disintegrating relationship between Lucía (Paz Vega), a young waitress, and Lorenzo (Tristan Ulloa), a novelist whose latest book has become entwined in his real life to the point that the work is taking over. Their connection is full of passionate, sexual highs, countered by moments of deep depression and existential crisis. It’s the type of attachment that everyone on the outside can see has problems, even if they can’t.
When Lorenzo, fleeing from their breakup, is severely injured, Lucía assumes that he is dead, and journeys to an unnamed island in the Mediterranean, a place where Lorenzo once had a life-changing experience that he keeps hidden from her. As she attempts to make sense of their life together, reliving their years of ups and downs, the entirety of their relationship unfolds in front of you in a series of flashbacks that reveal the true state of things.
While so many films try to be erotic, romantic, and sexy, only to fail miserably, Sex and Lucía pulls it off. Writer/director Julio Medem fashions a world full of lust and passion, but also romance and tenderness. Despite the ample explicit sexual expression for which the film is known, it is never gratuitous, and serves the greater good of the film. Across the board the actors give bold, daring performances, going far beyond the usual cinematic boundaries. Medem’s refusal to censor his film for its US release created a great deal of controversy. Both of Seattle’s daily newspapers banned advertising for the film, which received four honors at the 2002 Seattle International Film Festival.
Sex and Lucía is powerful visually and from a narrative perspective. The plot is an intricate, spiraling collection of intersecting characters and actions. At times the overlapping arcs can get confusing and muddled, but that seems to be the point. The connections known to the audience are not obvious to the characters, and vise versa. It deals with fact vs. fiction, reality vs. story, and is by turns twisted, tragic, and hopeful.
The sun-drenched island location (filmed on the small island of Formentera), that appears almost washed out at times, augments the fragile mental states of the characters. Like the plot, the locale is bright, almost blinding, disorienting, and fraught with holes and traps that spring up out of nowhere. It may in fact be floating free from the rest of the world. This contrasts with the almost claustrophobic urban scenes in Madrid. Everyone in Sex and Lucía is running away from something awful, and every one of them winds up on the island. It draws them in and forces them together.
The new Blu-ray presentation enhances what was already a beautiful film, and the disc comes with fair amount of bonus material. There is a 30-minute behind the scenes feature composed of cast and crew interviews. It’s more than a simple ego stroke, and it delves deeper into each of the main characters, breaking them down, as well as exploring other elements of the film. In addition to that there is another half-hour of extra interviews. Each of the primary actors, and Medem, is given a brief written bio, there are selections from the soundtrack, an extensive photo gallery, multiple trailers for the film, and previews of other Palm Pictures films.
Overall, the packaging is an excellent presentation of a wonderful film. The bonus features supplement what you already know of the characters from watching the movie.