Sex and Lucía is a distinctively European film about erotic love. The project takes a speculative look at the carnal satisfaction of torrid sex and the ability of a relationship to survive its heat. Lucía (Paz Vega) and her boyfriend, Lorenzo (Tristán Ulloa), are the protagonists of the movie and are captivating characters. The film’s director, Julio Medem, introduces us to Lucía in the middle of a desperate conversation she is having with Lorenzo. The scene makes it obvious that the two are going through something difficult, but teases what that something is. The scene effectively captures the gut-wrenching anxiety that comes with an impending break-up where you have no idea what you did wrong. That confusion and mystery drives the plot of the movie.
And it’s a plot that is as complicated and dizzying as any challenging relationship you’ve ever endured. The film utilizes flashbacks, flashforwards, and everything in between to tell its story. It makes the film hard to follow at times, but, by the end of the movie, the temporal fluctuations actually make sense as long as you keep your eye on Lorenzo. Lucía is the titular character, but the life and times of Lorenzo actually provide the functional foundation of the movie. Lorenzo is a struggling writer who bases the plots of his novels on his personal real-world experiences. (And he gets around enough to fill tomes!) It’s imperative that you keep that in mind as you watch the movie, or you will get lost.
One of the movie’s flashbacks reveals a tryst Lorenzo has with a random woman named Elena (Najwa Nimri). The encounter produces a lovechild, unbeknownst to him, named Luna (Silvia Llanos). Luna’s mother spends the next six years attempting to track Lorenzo down to give him due notice, but the tacit agreement that they make to not see each other again after their romp gets in the way. Flashforward— Lorenzo and Lucía are now living in sensual oblivion having copious amounts of sex in the most artistic and acrobatic ways possible. (I normally don’t give a ton of exposition when I review a movie, but this is a film where I think it comes in handy.)
With that said, here’s a fair warning: Sex should be given a casting credit in this movie because of how many scenes it appears. All of the uninhibited coitus that Lorenzo and Lucía enjoy throughout the script challenges the film’s more sensitive viewers. (There’s a general consensus that European media is often grittier and more explicit than American media and this film substantiates that claim.) Sex and Lucía is not pornography, but it’s definitely porn adjacent. If you’re a prude, this movie is not for you. However, the movie does attempt to address real complexities that exist in intimate relationships that go beyond sex and that makes its story genuinely interesting.
Medem explores issues like passion, jealousy, and responsibility and dives into how sex can amplify the gravity of those things. Great sex is great, but it also has consequences, i.e., engendering children or changing the trajectory of a total stranger’s life in shocking ways. The film seems to suggest that the carnal pleasure of sex might not be worth its potential outcomes. Luna grows up without a father, Elena suffers incessantly, and Lucía is tormented throughout the film because of sex. All of this makes Lorenzo a bit of a villain because his attitude towards sex and being a father are so cavalier. He causes a great deal of suffering for all of the women that he gets involved with, including Luna’s babysitter, Belén (Elena Anaya), because their relationships are all based around hot, sticky sex. It’s a pretty conspicuous indictment.
However, Sex and Lucía is definitely a movie that celebrates the erotic joy of being in an intimate relationship with someone you love. It’s thought provoking and emotionally titillating. The film, ultimately, does asks viewers to consider which they might prefer though: great sex with a casual partner or enduring intimacy with a soul-mate? It’s a broad question with so many implications. It’s a Sophie’s choice in a way. We are biologically designed to seek and enjoy sex. We are socially conditioned to curb the carnal desire for it. Somehow, we have to find a balance to satiate both imperatives. Sex and Lucía offers a decent opportunity to explore that conundrum.
Sex and Lucía is available on most major platforms.