Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Little (Sexy, Naughty) Mermaid and her sister show up in Agnieszka Smoczynska's genre-blending THE LURE

Whew! What to make of THE LURE, the new Polish movie from director Agnieszka Smoczynska and writer Robert Bolesto that my spouse insisted simply had to have been made during some former decade because every last one of its accoutrements -- its "look," production design, props, costumes, hair styles, even its music and lyrics -- seem so perfectly attuned to a time past. But, no: The film was indeed made in 2015 and is finally getting its U.S. theatrical release this week. Perhaps the best way to approach the movie is as a kind of singing-dancing, fairy-tale. fantasy, horror movie. It embodies each and all of those genres, and the most remarkable thing about The Lure is that it conflates these genres so well that it arrives on-screen and into our consciousness as something damned near sui-generis.

Ms. Smoczynska (at left) and Mr. Bolesto (below) have worked together previously on a short film and evidently have an awfully good rapport, so they have been able to create a kind of alternate universe in which the most bizarre things happen. And yet they happen so "reasonably" (given the oddness of the time, place and situations) that we simply accept them at face value -- even though that "face" is one we've never quite viewed before. After all, when a pair of young girls rise from the dark water, calling out to the men on shore for help -- while promising not to
eat them -- we've got to know that we're in pretty heady, unusual territory. Soon our girls, claiming to be named "Silver" and "Golden," are living with this on-shore family of entertainers who work in a kind of upper-end strip club, performing as a special attraction and using their ability to change from mermaid to fully human to give their audience an extra treat. And, boy, do they!  (The special effects here are used sparingly but they are done with such skill and imagination that they keep entirely within the movie's special blending of fantasy, sexuality, music, horror -- and romance. It is soon clear, however, that horror will be vying for top dog here (or, in this case, top fish).

The filmmaker's cast, which I will not single out individually, is remarkably good at delivering just what the writer and director ordered. Down the line, each actor's performance seem on target and able to convey via acting, singing, movement and more exactly what's required to keep us in the audience alternately charmed and flabbergasted but always entertained.

Channeling myth, folk tale, romance, sleaze and shock, while providing strange songs that will have you reading the English subtitles quickly and carefully for meaning and enjoyment, the movie races along from scene to scene as sex, romance -- along with the need to feed -- rears their rueful little heads.

TrustMovies did not notice any rating given for this movie -- which he suspects means that it remains unrated. The manner in which The Lure deals with nudity and sexuality (inter-species, at that) means that it most definitely is not for children -- unless parents are willing to spend a rather long time explaining things that may lose much of their magic and/or shock value in translation.

What does it all mean? That question is not even pertinent, I think. The film is what it is. And what it is proves outrageous and rather spectacular, colorful, breathtaking fun.

At the very least it might provide a nice corrective for those folk taken in by all the Hollywood hype over La La Land who were then a tad disappointed when they finally sat through this musical-of-the-moment.

From Janus Films and running a fleet and sometimes quite darkly funny 92 minutes, The Lure opens this Wednesday in New York City at the IFC Center. Elsewhere? I sure hope so. Laemmle's Noho 7 in Los Angeles is said to be presenting a movie called The Lure come early March, but one can't tell from the advance posting whether this is the same film discussed above. I don't understand why the Janus web site for the film is not more helpful in this regard. Posting playdates would be of great benefit to viewers who might want to see the movie.

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