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October 04, 2022

Sex and Lucia

sex and lucia.jpg

Lucia y el sexo
Julio Medem - 2001
Music Box Films BD Region A

I am certain that I saw Sex and Lucia at the time of its U.S. release, almost twenty years ago. At the same time, it turned out that while watching the new blu-ray, I remembered nothing of the film at all, no scenes, not even vague images. I have also seen several other films by Julio Medem, his Red Squirrel was reportedly admired by Stanley Kubrick. While the some of the narrative and stylistic aspects may be idiosyncratic for each film, there is a continual interest in the volatility of intimate relationships.

The film defies an easy synopsis. There are several strands of stories intertwined, all connected, bouncing between a past and a present. The characters are all connected in some way with a novelist, Lorenzo, struggling to write his second novel. Some concentration is required to keep sense of the events and the various relationships. Medem drops a few hints along the way that suggest that what we see may be the enactment of Lorenzo's novel while it is being written rather than events in his life. What might be considered self-referential is the off-screen narration in praise of incomplete story telling. Ambiguity is the point here.

The film is less about Lucia, who is not part of some of the narrative threads, while sex is what ties and unties the various couplings. It seems not coincidental that part of the film takes place on an island where at one end of the beach there is the unsubtle symbolism with a partially hidden hole and an out of service lighthouse. Most of the sex is between Lucia and Lorenzo, actors Paz Vega and Tristan Ulluo, with some assistance of body doubles. This is the complete version of Medem's film, shorn of two minutes at the time of its initial U.S. release. I would not be able to say for certain what has been restored, but my guess would be mostly the male frontal nudity.

The blu-ray comes with a video supplement by critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, who presents the argument that the depiction of sex is gender neutral, neither the frequently criticized "male gaze", nor what could be described as privileging a female view. That one of the characters is a retired porn actress is referred to primarily in a positive light. The film begins with an anonymous coupling on the island, in the water and under the stars. For Medem, sex is part of the natural order of life. The blu-ray also includes two older supplements, a "Making of . . . " and brief interviews with the main cast and crew members. While these supplements will not answer the ambiguous aspects of Sex and Lucia, they are helpful in explaining Medem's process as a filmmaker.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at October 4, 2022 06:44 AM