`Sex' is fun but also complicated

September 20, 2002|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Much like the act it celebrates, Sex and Lucia is fun and confusing and, when it's all over, you'll probably want to go back and try again, in case you missed something the first time around.

Writer-director Julio Medem (Lovers of the Arctic Circle) begins his story near its end, as the beautiful and seductive Lucia (Paz Vega) is told that her lover, Lorenzo (Tristan Ulloa), has just been in an accident. Distraught, worried that the cross words that ended their most recent encounter will be their last, she flees to an island.

All the while, Lucia is thinking back on her relationship with Lorenzo, a coupling as unconventional as it is passionate.

He was a writer, she, an obsessed fan who approaches Lorenzo one night and convinces him they should be a couple. The two have no trouble with the physical side of their relationship (Medem makes the sex scenes intensely erotic, but not salacious), and they connect emotionally as well. But Lorenzo soon gets a bad case of writer's block and turns sullen - an emotion with little appeal to the lusty, vivacious Lucia.

Other plot strands abound, beginning with a moonlight tryst between Lorenzo and another woman (they keep their names secret from one another - shades of Last Tango In Paris) and ending with Lorenzo discovering he has a daughter he didn't know about, meeting her and her baby sitter, shy, sexy Belen (Elena Anaya). There's also a scuba diver Lucia meets on the island, and Belen's mother, a former porn star whose boyfriend is the object of Belen's lustful daydreams.

Did I mention that the scuba diver and the boyfriend are played by the same actor? And that a lot of what's just been described here may not have happened at all but is merely part of Lorenzo's latest book?

Got all that? I doubt it, and you probably won't have it after a second viewing, either. At times, Sex and Lucia is too precious for its own good; a movie that demands its own flow chart isn't always a good thing. And events turn on one coincidence too many. But Medem's exquisite craftsmanship and full-throttle eroticism make his film a morass worth the attempt to unravel.

Sex and Lucia

Starring Paz Vega, Tristan Ulloa

Directed by Julio Medem

Released by Palm Pictures (In Spanish, with English subtitles)

Rating Unrated (Intense sexuality)

Time 122 minutes

SUN SCORE: ***

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