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Sex and Lucía

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What it’s about:

An adventurous waitress from Madrid (Paz Vega) falls passionately in love with a novelist (Tristán Ulloa) whose lovers become indistinguishable from the characters in his stories. Set in a mysterious island off the coast of Spain, the film weaves magical realism with a labrythine plot, and explores the fine lines between reality and imagination, love and lust, tragedy and obsession.

Names you might know:

Paz Vega stars as Lucía in what became her breakout role. (She starred in Pedro Almodovar’s Oscar-winning Talk to Her the following year.)  Co-star Tristán Ulloa has been nominated for Spain’s Goya award for acting, directing and writing.

Director Julio Medem is behind dozens of award-winning Spanish films, including The Tree Of Blood (El Árbol de la Sangre), currently on Netflix.

Why it’s worth your time:

One of the more acclaimed NR films, Sex and Lucía is an intoxicating portrait of two lovers that aims to arouse artistic sensibilities and intellects as much as it aims to titillate.

The story: After a bitter fight with her boyfriend, Lorenzo (Ulloa), Lucía (Vega) walks out of her job to check on him at home, worried about what he might do next. She arrives to find an empty apartment and what appears to be a suicide note, followed by a call from the police. Terrified of what they might tell her, she hangs up and frantically packs a bag before fleeing to a mysterious island, a place Lorenzo spoke fondly of.

From there, the story flashes back to Lorenzo’s past: to a stranger he has sex with one night in a moon-lit ocean before parting ways; to the stranger realizing she’s pregnant with his child and trying to find him; to Lorenzo explaining to his book editor that he has writer’s block; to his first encounter with Lucia, who introduces herself as a passionate fan of his work.

An all-consuming affair begins, but as the film interweaves past and present, it also laces together characters and love affairs that seem to be from one of Lorenzo’s novels, or at least Lucía thinks they are. A former porn star with a six-year-old daughter who never knew the father of her child; a babysitter who finds the father and strikes up a torrid affair with him.

After a tragedy — which Lorenzo fails to share with Lucia — sends him into a state of despair, his writing takes a darker, more depraved turn, which ultimately leads to their fallout, and to the note he left behind.

There are problems to be found and questions to be raised, and female viewers might be wondering when they’ll see the script get flipped on the tortured writer who is doggedly pursued by lustful young hotties. But watch this one for the gorgeous world it takes you to and the moods it will inevitably inspire.

The takeaway:

A cinephile’s version of soft porn, Sex and Lucia will drop you into a steamy, surreal dreamscape in the middle of a sun-soaked Mediterranean. You may not completely understand it all, but you may not really care, either.

 

Watch it with:

That hot date or your long-term relationship when you’re in need of something new and European. This is the film school grad version of  what “Netflix and Chill” was intended for.  Except you can stream it just about everywhere but Netflix.

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