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Palm Pictures presents
Sex and Lucia (2001)

"I'm going to write a story full of advantages. The first advantage is at the end of the story. It doesn't finish, it falls in a hole. And the story starts again halfway."
- Lorenzo (Tristan Ulloa)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: April 16, 2003

Stars: Paz Vega, Tristan Ulloa, Najwa Nimri, Daniel Freire
Other Stars: Javier Camara, Silvia Llanos, Elena Anaya
Director: Julio Modem

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (contains graphic sexual situations, nudity, and language)
Run Time: 02h:07m:44s
Release Date: March 25, 2003
UPC: 031398827429
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BB+B+ B-

DVD Review

Handsome author Lorenzo (Tristan Ulloya) is sitting comfortably at a local bar with his pal Pepe (Javier Camara) and talking about his current writer's block. While patronizing the cigarette machine, the attractive Lucia (Paz Vega) stops him and says she has something important to say. Without warning, she informs the bemused guy of her passionate love and hopes to live with him. After scanning the room for indications of a practical joke, Lorenzo can't help but learn more about this energetic young woman. Thus begins the tale of Lucia and Lorenzo.

Sex and Lucia depicts their passionate relationship through multiple timelines that shift upon themselves and possibly veer into fictional realms. Writer/director Julio Medem utilized a similar device in his last film Lovers of the Arctic Circle and seems to enjoy throwing audiences a few curves. These twists do not fall into the realm of mind-twisting embodied in mysteries like the recent dud Basic. Instead, Medem plays with the idea of creating one's own story from the tales of others. While the events unfold, Lorenzo is crafting his novel from his own experiences with Lucia and other people. When pivotal actions take place, it's not always clear if these occur in his mind or reality.

While sometimes confusing, the storytelling devices do provide additional context to some possibly straightforward dramatic moments. When Lorenzo falls victim to a severe car accident, Lucia travels to the majestic island he loved. Once there, she enters a world much different from their flat in Madrid. Time virtually stops on the island, and wondrous scenery provides an ethereal effect. Cinematographer Kiko de la Rica utilizes high-definition digital photography to convey a sparse, bleached-out atmosphere that contributes to this tone. Many of these moments are visually stunning even while their context remains slightlly unclear.

The driving force for the plot is Lorenzo's tryst with Elena (Najwa Nimri) one night in the moonlight that leads to a young daughter. Neither discovers the other's name, and they reveal only a few minor details, but much of the future events stem from this moment. Lorenzo's encounter with his daughter several years later also brings him into contact with the rambunctious Belen (Elena Anaya). She tells him numerous stories that are probably lies, but they spawn his curiousity and draw the writer into trouble. The resulting tragedy will be especially difficult to overcome, if it actually occurred, which is a tough question.

True to its name, Sex and Lucia features numerous sex scenes that move beyond the expected boundary for dramatic films. Passionate and close-up sequences take place often in the first half, where Lorenzo and Lucia's relationship is growing. Although some of the moments could be labeled gratuitous, they usually do serve a purpose in the ultimate story. Viewers renting this film because of its title should not be disappointed, however. Mixed in with the erotic moments is a touching picture that should equally confuse and charm audiences.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Sex and Lucia conveys numerous stunning images amid the striking island landscape. The bright colors shine nicely on the 2.35:1 widescreen anamorphic transfer, which offers some grand images. The digital photography does lead to a significant amount of hazy shots, especially during the darker moments. However, that was probably unavoidable considering the source material.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanishno
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The slow, melodic score springs well from the entire sound field of the 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer. The complexity is not remarkable, but significant power does exist within this track. This disc also contains a 2.0-channel Dolby Digital transfer, which lacks the complexity of its counterpart, but still provides an acceptable listening experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Believer, The Last Minute
Production Notes
1 Documentaries
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Bonus Interviews
  2. Soundtrack Highlights
  3. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: Sex and Lucia includes an informative 25-minute behind-the-scenes documentary that discusses all the film's major elements. Julio Medem discusses the story's origins and many of the key themes during worthwhile interviews. This feature is split into segments covering the main characters, "The Sex," and "The Island." Everyone seems very pretty proud of their work, but it never wavers into annoying promotional comments. Plenty of behind-the-scenes footage is included, along with scenes from the movie. The documentary's interviews exist in more detail in a separate section on the disc, which runs for about 17 minutes. The actors and crew members all speak intelligently and openly, which should increase viewers' appreciation.

Additional production footage is available in the soundtrack section, which provides basic information and three of the prominent songs. They play over the extra shots and spotlight the impressive work of Alberto Iglesias and singer Mala Rodriguez. A small photo gallery also includes 36 pictures that contain both filming and screen photos.

The remaining extras include biographies for all the key participants, several trailers, and web links. The two Sex and Lucia previews come from the US and Spain, and vary considerably in the content presented. They both utilize impressive widescreen formats. Trailers for The Believer and The Last Minute are also available.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

Offering stunning photography and significant passion, Sex and Lucia garnered considerable acclaim upon its initial release. I did enjoy the storytelling alterations and blurring of the lines between reality and fiction, but it never grabbed me enough to make the tale entirely compelling. Even though the actors performed effectively, I always felt a bit detached from the action. Medem's work is obviously very personal, and my inability to connect to the work was surprising. It still is an interesting picture, however, and definitely worth a viewing if you're willing to take the ride.


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