Sex and Lucia

Director: Julio Medem

Basque auteur Julio Medem continues on his own uniquely intricate way with this mesmerising cross-weave of sun, sea, sex and the male psyche. When Madrid waitress Lucia (Paz Vega) arrives home one night to discover her writer boyfriend Lorenzo (Tristan Ulloa) is nowhere to be found, she immediately assumes the worst. Travelling to the Balearic island of Formentera she hopes will give her time to recover from the loss, a place close to him for reasons which become clearer when the narrative whisks back in time. Attention switches to Lorenzo, the repercussions of a wild night of carefree sex on the beach with Elena (Najwa Nimri, star of Medem’s previous magnum opus Lovers of the Arctic Circle), and how that impacts on his intensely physical relationship with Lucia, who gets a shocking insight into her partner’s innermost secrets when she peeks at the new novel taking shape on his computer. But are the lurid events described there fiction or truth?
Medem’s fifth feature is perhaps his most visually startling, the wide-screen digital camerawork searing the sun-saturated Mediterranean landscape onto the screen. It’s also his most uninhibitedly erotic film, since the central theme considering if men are dominated by their desires, or deeper bonds are formed with women through parenting, seems to demand that the filmmaker convey his characters’ sexual exhilaration. Medem certainly goes for it (perhaps at the cost of writing more rounded female characters), though gratification certainly seems to have its price, whether you read Lorenzo’s misadventures as imaginative projections or overheated melodrama made real. Either way, Medem continues to dazzle while providing us with plenty to talk about afterwards.oTrevor Johnston.

Spain, 2001. English subtitles. Colour. Anamorphic. Dolby digital stereo. 128 mins.

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