Lucia y el Sexo is 45-year-old Spanish Basque Julio Medem’s erotic and portentous 2001 follow up to Lovers Of The Arctic Circle (1998). Medem likes to be known as a metaphysical director who prefers quirky titles. His 1991 Goya-award winning debut film was called Cows (Vacas). He followed this up in 1993 with his most critically acclaimed film, The Red Squirrel (La Ardilla Roja) and then made Earth (Tierra) in 1996. Lovers Of The Arctic Circle is his best-known film outside Spain as it was widely distributed in English-speaking countries.

All five of Medem’s films have been love stories of sorts. Medem says he began writing Sex And Lucia after a vacation he took on the little-known islet of Formentera off the coast of Spain before he began filming Lovers Of The Arctic Circle. He must have liked the island a lot, as it is the central character in his latest film.

Sex And Lucia is a road trip that blurs the line between reality and fiction and provides yet another context for Medem to unleash his trademark view of the landscape as a meaningful symbol at one with his imagination. The film also features a very current European arthouse view of sex and the modern couple, ie plenty of sex, tits and even dicks. It is obvious the director wrote El Sexo, one of the two stories he merged for the film, first because sex occupies nearly the entire first part of the film. This factor alone has made the film very successful with audiences on the film festival circuit.

Unfortunately, the film is more than a little confusing and is not helped by Medem’s choice of a non-linear plot where characters are like pieces in an ill-fitting jigsaw puzzle. The film is chocked with symbolism that is so obvious at times that it borders on corny and this factor alone reduces what could have been quite an ethereal piece into yet another journey of discovery. Paz Vega, a Spanish sitcom actress who later snared a role in Talk To Her, plays Lucia and won a Goya for her trouble. The film is shot in a bleached, digital style to make the audience feel the heat of the island and the couplings.

The film’s relentless switching between the real and the imagined becomes more boring than fascinating. In the end, Medem’s approach is simply too superficial and heavy-handed for most audiences to really care about these people despite the sex and full-frontal nudity.

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