May 19, 2010

Naughty Netflix: Sex and Lucia

(Think that you can't rent movies at Netflix that contain legitimately explicit sexuality? Think again, my frustrated friend! In this special essay series, I look at a total of thirty mainstream films made over the last forty years, all of which contain scenes of such actual graphic sex acts as fellatio and penetration, reviewing them not in only in terms of the movie's quality itself but also the amount of sex it portrays, and whether this sex is any fun or not to actually watch. For more about how these movies were chosen, as well as the full list of all thirty titles, you can click here; and don't forget, these reviews are also mixed into the master list of all movies reviewed here, over at CCLaP's main movie page.)

Sex and Lucia

Today's movie: Sex and Lucia, 2001 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

The story in a nutshell: Nominated for seven Spanish Oscars despite its notorious nature, 2001's metafictional Sex and Lucia starts with a look at the wild-child waitress Lucia of the movie's title, who begins the film learning of the (likely) suicide of her troubled writer boyfriend Lorenzo; this then prompts her to take a grief holiday to his favorite Mediterranean island, in an attempt to understand more about what had been going on in his life to have led him to this point. In flashbacks, then, we learn that six years previously, Lorenzo had had a one-night-stand with a beautiful stranger named Elena, which he only finds out six years later had led to a love-child named Luna; without the mother's knowledge, then, he ends up befriending Luna's babysitter, the fellow uninhibited ingenue Belen, as a way of learning more about his illegitimate child, leading to an affair between the two even as he is now living with Lucia. But alas, while making love to Belen for the first time, Luna is unfortunately killed in a freak accident during their watch, which is supposedly what leads Lorenzo to a crippling depression and eventual supposed suicide. Ah, but the question is, did any of this actually really happen? Or have we simply been watching adapted scenes from the semi-autobiographical novel Lorenzo was working on at the time of his disappearance? Did Lorenzo in fact die at all? Did Luna really exist? That's the beauty of this complex and poetic film, and why I call it "metafictional" in the first place, is that neither we nor Lucia learn the exact objective answer by the end, leaving us to ponder the various complicated ways that reality and fiction mingle in the lives of most artists.

What I thought: WOW. Well, I gotta say, after a year of watching mostly silly softcore porn and misogynistic European trainwrecks in service of this essay series, it was a real treat to finally come across a movie in this list that's as smart as it is erotic; that was the entire point of even starting this series, in fact, was to see if any of these bevy of NC-17 films over the years actually hold up as decent entertainment as well as simply masturbatory material. But that said, you absolutely must watch Sex and Lucia with your full attention, because it deliberately gets very confusing very fast; and by "confusing" I mean "freaking Memento confusing," in that director Julio Medem literally plays with the conventions of filmmaking specifically to trip us up, offering up scene after scene featuring our main cast that look at first like objective "reality," but then refusing to clarify whether what we just watched was a flashback to what "really" happened in our storyline, or was in fact an acted-out scene from Lorenzo's novel-in-progress. In this, then, you can actually see a lot of similarities to John Irving's classic The World According to Garp, in that both take highly realistic looks at the creative process; because as any author can tell you, no piece of fiction is ever entirely made up out of whole cloth, but is instead at least slightly informed by the real events of that author's actual life, simply twisted and exaggerated in some cases until it is barely recognizable anymore as "true." Combine this, then, with the vast amount of graphic sexuality on display, and you're left with the very example of the proverbial "Film For Couples To Watch To Get Themselves In The Mood;" and that of course is another of the goals of this essay series, to separate the wheat from the chaff of all these unrated erotic thrillers, for all you horny little creative-classers looking for something graphic but not pornographic.

What makes it an explicit movie? Sheesh, where do you even start? Well, there's the plethora of nudity, as well as the copious shots of both male and female genitalia (including plenty of erect penises); and unlike many movies in this series, Sex and Lucia also features unsimulated masturbation, fellatio and penetration, making its embrace by the awards crowd even more head-scratching than usual.

Is the sex actually fun to watch? Si, senor! In fact, much like Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs, in many ways that's the entire point of this film, is to show how honest eroticism and attraction between two people is not only such a powerful thing, but can also lead to some huge complications down the road; because let's face it, most of the messes seen in this movie were caused by the parties involved not being able to control their burning lust for each other. It's certainly an explicit film, much more so than what passes for "eroticism" in American cinema, and you deserve to know that before renting it; but like the best of the movies from this series, it's dirty without being disgusting or offensive, a kind of explicitness that can be enjoyed as much by middle-aged women as teenaged boys (and make no mistake, teenaged boys will find plenty in this movie to enjoy).

Strangest piece of trivia: Many of the most intense scenes were actually done by body doubles, not the main actors.

Worth your time? Oh my, yes

Filed by Jason Pettus at 3:09 PM, May 19, 2010. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |