Lucía, Lucía (R) Fox Searchlight Pictures Official
Site Director: Antonio Serrano Producer: Matthias Ehrenberg Written by: Antonio Serrano (based on the novel
The Cannibal’s Daughter by Rosa Montero) Cast: Cecilia Roth, Carlos Álvarez-Novoa, Kuno
Becker, Javier Díaz Dueñas
out of 5
The problem with the undependable narrator as a thematic device isn’t so much
that the audience has no one to trust. With The Usual Suspects,
the final revelation about the narrator works precisely because
it indicts the audience’s willingness to believe what’s in
front of it. The problem lies in that word “device.” Too many
films that use ambiguity in their narration have the tendency
to employ that doubt only as far as its mechanics will allow.
They neglect the rule of thumb in filmmaking: The craft is
never as important as the story. They use uncertainty as window-dressing,
when what they should be doing is hard-wiring it into the
story so that, when the curtain is thrown back to reveal who’s
at the controls, both the film and audience has earned it.
It’s a formula alright, and one that should be followed.
Antonio Serrano’s first mistake with Lucía, Lucía is
to break with this formula. His second is in trying to play
cutesy with it. Lucía (All About My Mother’ s Roth) is
a 40-something housewife who discovers her husband to have inexplicably
vanished while waiting for their plane to Rio. This throws her
into a tailspin, leading to her own amateur investigation into
his disappearance and the unearthing of some upsetting facts
about another, less savory life he’s been leading. Throughout
the film, Lucía narrates the goings-on as if she were an eight-year-old
playing house, changing up details such as her hairstyle, home
furnishings, even the outcome of the story, at her leisure.
One moment we’ll be watching her, decked out in Prada, arrive
at her posh penthouse loft, the next she’ll confess to not being
entirely honest, and then we’re shown her frumping around a
modestly decorated apartment with cracked linoleum and particle
board cabinets, wearing a two-sizes-too-big sweatshirt and mismatched
pants. When she meets her neighbor, Félix (Álvarez-Novoa),
and Adrián (Becker), a young musician who attempts to
rescue her from would-be robbers, she narrates the following
afternoon with them as if it were the paradise she had always
longed for, making it seem to draw out over a period of years.
But then she doubles back to inform us that things didn’t happen
as fast as she’d like to believe. As soon as you get accustomed
to what she lays out for you, she yanks the rug out from under
you and discounts much of what has come before.
This isn’t in itself a bad thing. The way it’s set up, Lucía’s
narration has the potential at the outset to weave itself
nicely into the storyline. And it effectively illustrates
Lucía’s ideal for a perfectly constructed reality, how as
she finds herself in middle-age, she’s rediscovering what
she wants out of life. Félix is old enough to be her father,
and Adrián is young enough to be her son, and so it’s possible
to see this developing situation as Lucía’s attempt at organizing
the male influences in her life into something more manageable.
And if Serrano had continued in that direction, it might have
But he can’t seem to let it stand on its own. He insists
on giving it a saccharine, sitcom veneer that saps it of any
profundity it may have promised. The look, the tone, everything
about Lucía’s purported fantasy suggests a world not far removed
from a kid’s-eye view of playing grown-up. On its own, this
might have worked. But coupled with Serrano’s insistence on
psychological insight, it’s unable to cross the fence and
make a point. It’s like watching a street riot from inside
a candy store. You can see the reality on the other side of
the glass, but you’re still surrounded by a calm that’s bad
for your teeth.
Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.
It’s worth a full-price ticket.
It’s worth a matinee ticket.
Wait for video rental.
Check out the video from the library, if you must.
While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...