Join the discussion on

" There’s a difference between being horny and putting in the time, night after night ... "
— Campbell Scott, Roger Dodger

MRQE Top Critic

Atomic Blonde

Atomic Blonde offers an excitingly fresh and strong female lead. —Matt Anderson (review...)

Sponsored links

Sex & Lucía has lots of beautiful people having lots of sex. Subtract the sex and you would still have a wonderful movie, so I’m not sure why Medem gave it so much importance. The few statements from Medem I’ve read that “explain” it, don’t actually explain anything.

Nevertheless, Sex & Lucía is what it is. With or without the sex, it’s a wonderful tale about love and destiny, told well by a master storyteller.

El Sexo

Lucia poses with the G-rated PolaroidTwo lovers have romantic anonymous sex in the moonlit waters of the Mediterranean. They agree not to tell each other their names, just a few pieces of fragmentary information. Today is his birthday. She is a world-class paella cook.

Flash forward to six years in the future. The man, Lorenzo (Tristán Ulloa), is meeting with his agent to talk about his latest book, based on the experiences he had in the opening scene. Lucía (not the woman from the opening scene) has been following him for some time. You might say she’s a stalker. She knows everything about Lorenzo and his books. Out of the blue she introduces herself at a coffee shop, throwing herself at his feet. In so many words she declares her love and asks if they can move in together. Lorenzo is lovestruck and agrees.

Their early relationship is marked by frequent bouts of playful sex. They are a handsome happy couple and they seem indomitable and inseparable.

Lorenzo Sin Lucía

Eventually the novelty wears off and Lorenzo is once again obsessed more by his writer’s block than with Lucía. His agent Pepe (a role well-realized by Javier Cámara) has a doozy of a story idea for him. Pepe has deduced that Lorenzo’s moonlit tryst all those years ago resulted in a daughter. Some serendipitous research reveals that her mother’s name is Elena (Najwa Nimri) and they now live here in Madrid.

Without contacting Elena, Lorenzo starts sneaking peeks at his daughter at a playground. He even introduces himself to little Luna (meaning moon, the perfect complement to “Lorenzo,” which means sun), and gets to know her and her babysitter.

His writer’s block once again clears up, but personal problems start to loom. There are two new women in his life: his daughter Luna and her babysitter Belén. Lorenzo now has to balance his affection for all three women with his now-intense writing sessions. Meanwhile Belén faces a Gordian Knot of emotions involving Lorenzo, her former porn-star mother, and mother’s new husband who also has eyes for Belén.

Interference Patterns

The arc of the story is more of a sine wave than an arc. From the opening low, the film rises and falls and rises. There is also an interesting pattern of interference in the wave: two timelines are intercut, and several storylines intersect at more than one point. Part of the fun of Sex & Lucía is tracing these threads back to their origins after the movie.

Medem is such a good storyteller that he never lets you get lost. Except for a couple of opening scenes, each scene always some connection with a known point of reference. When new connections are made it feels like a reward. The story’s structure gives a sense of magical delight and the simple joy of a story well told.

Medem’s previous film, Lovers of the Arctic Circle, also explored love and fate. Its structure too showed the deftness of Medem’s touch. I can’t help but remember a passing glimpse of an interview I saw on Turner Classic Movies — maybe it was about Preston Sturges. After several modest, adequate films, the director in question, made his first great success, the first film in the style that would later come to define that director’s career. A forward-looking friend told him “just keep making that same movie.”

While there’s a lot to be said for versatility, Medem has a unique talent with this blend of magic, fate, and love. It would be a shame for him to waste it. I say “just keep making this same movie.” As long as he keeps making them, I’ll keep recommending them.

Postscript

When I read that Sex & Lucia was shot on video I thought surely the author had made a mistake. The beautiful blue Mediterranean waters and inspiring blue-and-white sky? The widescreen format packed with great detail? Sure enough, according to the Internet Movie Database, Sex & Lucia was shot on high-definition video with a $100,000 Sony “camcorder.” An avowed film snob, I am surprised and pleased to admit that this is the first time I’ve been completely fooled.