THE LURE (2017)

Critic - No.133

Director: Agnieszka Smoczyńska
Casts: Marta Mazurek, Micalina Olszanska, Kinga Preis, Andrzej Konopka, Jakub Gierszal
Music: Barbara Wrońska, Zuzanna Wrońska, Marcin Macuk
Language: Polish
Genre: Comedy / Drama / Horror

In Warsaw, a pair of mermaid sisters, Gold and Silver are adopted into a cabaret group. While one seeks love with humans, the other hungers to dine on the human population of the city.

Many movies has explored the popular ‘mermaid’ in too many angles by experimenting and attempting to tie that concept with our human society, churning out either social commentary or fantasy. In ‘The Lure’, film maker Smoczyńska has made a dark romantic musical presented in a bizarre, sometimes self-indulging treatment. Not that she has not made her stand against the chauvinistic society, but Smoczyńska does it rather symbolically with her peculiar chaotic visual symbolism.

Set in the Communist-era Poland in 1980s, the film sets off with a scene of the house manager in a club discovering their real identity when they strip down naked to let their body admired by him for hiring them as mermaid strippers and singers. From the beginning, the sisters’ body are shown as emblem of the patriarchal society. The constant fetish progresses with the bass player falling in love with Silver that complicates the relationship with her sister. People who expect a conventional romantic fantasy might be disappointed with this film that oozes with unrestrained exuberance. The time and space created by Smoczyńska reminded me of the works of Leos Carax’s technical mastery, specifically ‘Holy Motors (2012)’. 

As soon as it starts, the film translates into a quirky musical without losing its Gothic mood and the emphasis on women objectification. Filled with layered characters, the film offers a reasonable amount of scope for performance with obviously the sisters (played by Marta Mazurek and Micalina Olszanska) leading in front with polarized characteristics. Dominated by style, the art direction and make up is flawless, complementing the surreal and playful texture of Smoczyńska’s  colourful vision. As the plot progresses, the film looks more like a series of visual experimentation with oddly mixed hypnotic nature. The audience might get restless towards the second act that is compensated with a predictable but a satisfying climax. And we are left to think whether we should appreciate Smoczyńska’s cinematic experimentation or question the eccentric, directionless plot.

However the energetic drive of The Lure’ often substitutes stylistic flourishes for the occasional confounding lack of coherence, which is perhaps attributable to a youthful perspective on hazily remembered bygone days that vanished with the fall of Communism. The hypnotic sound design and music immerses us further into the world. What I liked about the film is its breakthrough in projecting the concept of mermaid and the technical innovation. Not too direct on your face, ‘The Lure’ will make you reflect on the problematic male dominated society.

'The Lure’ is a hallucinatory horror-musical that defies the decorated genre at many levels, with a metaphorical commentary on women objectification and the misogynistic society.



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