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Lucía, Lucía (2003) – DVD Review

lucia lucia dvd cover


Written by: Antonio Serrano, based on the novel by Rosa Montero
Directed by: Antonio Serrano
Starring: Cecilia Roth, Carlos Álvarez-Nóvoa, Kuno Becker


  • Commentary by Director Antonio Serrano

Released by: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Region: 1
Rating: R
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Catch It On Cable.

Lucía (Roth) has a standard middle class life. She’s writes children’s books, her husband works for the Mexican Treasury Department. Events become non-standard when before they board their vacation flight, her husband goes to the bathroom… and doesn’t come back. Lucía is confused and angry, but she really begins to freak out when a huge ransom demand is made by a Maoist terrorist group for her husband. It seems that he has an large “inheritance” hidden away and the terrorist group wants it. Lucía is helped by her neighbors, the elderly Félix (Álvarez-Nóvoa) and the young Adrián (Becker). As Lucía gets more involved in finding what in going on, she finds nothing is as it seems. Is her husband a victim or a criminal? Are the police trying to help or are they involved? Are her friends keeping secrets from her? Finally, is she who she thinks she is?

[ad#longpost]In a lot of ways, I was reminded of Romancing the Stone while watching this movie. You have danger but never too much, plenty of quirky characters, a hot romance, and a twist or two. Essentially the initial crime and the adventures that follow break the main character out of her meek shell and she discover her true strength. On this level, the movie is enjoyable if average.

But the script adds more layers. The story is told through Lucía, and being a writer, she makes some ‘improvements’. In fact, in a voice over she says she lies several times in the movie. Her appearance, her apartment, events that happen to her tend to be more fluid than what we call reality. While some may be irritated in having an unreliable narrator, I think this is an interesting concept. How well we remember events in our life are not set in stone, especially if you are of a creative bent. Even without meaning to, we add details to make it more dramatic, more like a story than real life.

While this is interesting in theory, its execution in this film isn’t that effective. There are whole sections where the movie forgets that Lucía’s perspective is malleable and not what is really going on. So the sense of fantasy mixing with reality is uneven and you lose the subtle sense of magical realism. The director creates some impressive visuals to add to that atmosphere but the script doesn’t really give him enough to work with. This also applies to an attempt to comment on official corruption within the government. This comes far too late in the story and feels tacked on. It’s as if the scriptwriter wanted to add a bit of social relevance to balance out the lighthearted nature of the piece. Instead, it lands like a lead weight. This makes the movie frustrating. It has such potential: a visually creative director, talented actors, and some fascinating concepts behind it. It just doesn’t take that one step to really gel everything and make a great film. Instead you end up with mediocrity.

lucia lucia three amigos
The Three Amigos

The extras are standard as well. The director gives an audio commentary in English instead of his native Spanish. Because of this, it’s difficult to tell if his observations lack real depth or his command of the language isn’t up to the task. You get the usual stuff about how as soon as he saw the actor that were perfect for the role, the difficulty of shooting on location, and how he picked out the color schemes. I wonder if Serrano spoke in Spanish, he would express himself more naturally. The making of featurette is a little odd. First let me say that this is a double sided disc: one side for letterbox, one for full screen. Half of the featurette is on one side, the second half is on the other. It’s not that I’m too lazy to flip over a DVD, it’s that the featurette is the stars saying what a great time they had making the picture and some standard information about the production. So it’s really not worth the effort of flipping over the DVD. If you really have a passion for the New Wave in Mexican cinema, it might be worth it to rent Lucía Lucía. If you’re a regular moviegoer, catch it on TV.

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