One of the most inventive and erotic films you are likely to see this year, Basque writer-director Julio Medem's follow-up to the time-bending "Lovers of the Arctic Circle" is another Möbius strip of a drama. Its intricate story leaves the straight and narrow early on, only to curve neatly back onto itself by the end.
Spanish sitcom actress Paz Vega gives a radiant, sexy performance as the title character, a Madrid waitress who receives a telephone call telling her of the death of her author boyfriend Lorenzo (Ulloa).
Retreating to a sun-bleached Mediterranean island he had spent time on, she recalls their intense relationship. His writings reveal the tale of a one-night stand years earlier with Elena (Nimri from "Lovers of the Arctic Circle"), who runs the boarding house Lucia holes up in and who, unbeknown to Lorenzo, gave birth to a daughter, Luna, after their brief encounter.
As those familiar with Medem's past work will expect, "Sex and Lucia" is a difficult film to pin down. Lorenzo's circular narratives blur the lines between fiction and reality, and the viewer gets carried along on waves of fate and coincidence.
The director's trademark use of elemental symbolism also gives the movie other meanings not tied to plot, with the sun and moon joining the sea as forces shaping the characters' lives. Even the island that draws Lucia, Lorenzo, and Elena to it reputedly floats unsteadily on the water.
And everything revolves around sex, from procreation to pornography, portrayed in the sort of unembarrassed, explicit detail in vogue in European arthouse releases these days. An intoxicating experience.
In Spanish with English subtitles.