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Movies: Sex and Lucia; Swimming Pool
Sunday, 2004 July 11 - 11:31 am
I bought both of these movies on DVD, only partly due to prurient interest. The overt sexuality aside, the movies have some similarities, but they make their points in different ways.

"Swimming Pool" is a story about mystery novelist Sarah Morton (Charlotte Rampling), who takes a trip to her publisher's quiet summer house in France looking for inspiration for a new novel. While there, the publisher's brazenly sexual daughter Julie (Ludivine Sagnier) shows up. Julie brings home an assortment of men for sex and booze, and at first Sarah plays the part of the stern and disapproving older woman. Gradually, Sarah begins to take interest in Julie's life, using it as material for her novel. As this happens, Sarah and Julie start to get along better. The twist comes when Sarah discovers Julie may have killed one of the men she brought home.

That, at least, is the surface story. As such, the movie would have been a quiet and somewhat uninteresting movie about women and their processes of self-discovery. At the end of the movie, though, there is a second twist that reveals a hidden story. That twist adds a new dimension to Julie's character, but also seems to weaken some of the themes that were built up in the surface story.

This is a movie that will leave you thinking about its true meaning, but only for a little while. It's an interesting story, but there just isn't that much substance to it, or much novelty.

"Sex and Lucía" (originally "Lucía y el sexo") is a story about Lucía (Paz Vega), a woman who believes her lover Lorenzo (Tristan Ulloa) has died in an auto accident. She decides to run away to an island that was the setting for one of Lorenzo's novels. The movie jumps back and forth between the past and the present, showing how Lucía and Lorenzo's relationship evolved, and revealing the events that led to Lorenzo's tragedy.

What we discover is an almost impossibly incestuous web of entangled lives and sexual intrigue. We discover that Lorenzo's novel about the island was in fact based on true events that happened to him. He had a one-night stand with a woman named Elena (Najwa Nimri), who became pregnant with his daughter. When he goes to look for his daughter, he ends up having an affair with her babysitter Belén (Elena Anaya); we discover later that the babysitter's stepfather ends up on the island having a sexual relationship with Elena. Got all that?

The beauty of this movie, though, is in how this web is unfolded before us. We discover things gradually, putting together the pieces one at a time, and all the while we get deeper and deeper insights into each of the characters.

Both "Swimming Pool" and "Sex and Lucía" are mysteries of a sort, with multilayered stories and intriguing plot twists. Both explore the theme of sex and the power it can have over people's lives. But while "Swimming Pool" resorts to an oft-used sudden plot trick to reveal its mystery, "Sex and Lucía" takes a more gradual and crafted approach.

Oh, and for the prurient-minded: Ludivine Sagnier and Paz Vega are both incredibly beautiful.

"Swimming Pool" Rating: 2.5 / 5
"Sex and Lucía" Rating: 3.5 / 5
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Posted by Ken in: moviesreviews


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