Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sex and Lucia: Grade B

Sex and Lucia (2001)
Paz Vega, Tristán Ulloa; writer and director Julio Medem. (Spanish, subtitled)

I’ve been charmed by Paz Vega ever since 10 Items or Less (2006), so I looked at this one, which was among her first half dozen roles on the big screen, at the tender age of 26. Even then she had all the mysterious, earnest, and intense looks, glances and gestures that make her so compelling. Comparisons to Penelope Cruz cannot be avoided.

This is not a great movie, serving mainly as a vehicle for writerly self-aggrandizement. It is a story about a writer who, perhaps unwittingly, is writing the story that we are watching unfold, except sometimes he is also unknowingly acting it out. In the end, it doesn’t add up, and gets so caught up in its tricky self-references that after a while the viewer just tunes out, listens to the melodic language and watches the lovely scenery, good acting, and the mesmerizing Vega.

The cinematography is beautiful, some of it stunning, where color saturation is pushed so hard clouds become pink. In some scenes the film is almost solarized to give the impression of intense heat. Locations are gorgeous, sets are interesting, especially the country house, and the costumes are good.

As for sex, well, there is considerable naked writhing, but apart from the odd nipple or buttock, there is really nothing to look at. The characters are hypersexual at times, but hey, they are young. That’s really not the point of the movie. Rather, it is the complex characters and convincing acting.

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