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Lucía, Lucía

Here's hoping no one in Hollywood has aimed a "remake" ray at Antonio Serrano's Lucía, Lucía (2003), because it's just not the kind of story that would translate well into American cinema. Tense, languid, sensual, and comedic all at once, it's the kind of film that could only be made in another country — in this case, Mexico, currently a hotbed for enthusiastic, daring filmmaking (a la Y Tu Mamá También). Elements of that "new wave" are certainly present in Lucía, a beautifully filmed mystery/drama/comedy about Lucía (All About My Mother's Cecilia Roth), an imaginative writer whose husband disappears at the airport one day while they're waiting to board a flight. As Lucía narrates her story, we get to know her — or at least we think we do; she gets carried away by her own fancies more than once and has to reel her tale back in to "reality" (shades of Romancing the Stone). The two constants in Lucía's narrative are her neighbors Félix (Carlos Álvarez-Novoa), an aging ex-revolutionary, and Adrián (Kuno Becker), a handsome, soulful student barely out of his teens. The men help Lucía unravel the complex mystery behind her husband's disappearance — but it's their devoted friendship that makes her realize that perhaps she doesn't want to find him, for Lucía has never lived more fully than she does while furtively toting suitcases full of money around the city, avoiding bad guys, and plotting her next move. Roth was an excellent casting choice; she's sexy and strong, but she's also believable as a real woman — she has that air of experience and casually affectionate cynicism that few American actresses can really pull off. All that said, Lucía has its faults. The film feels too long at times; the sense of languidness that sets it apart from U.S. films also smacks of knowing self-awareness. And for all of her talent, Roth goes a bit over the top in some of her dramatic scenes, especially the ones that involve crying and sobbing. Lucía never quite pays off as a thriller, but as an example of the kind of passionate, exciting filmmaking going on south of the border these days, it's worth a viewing. Fox's two-sided DVD offers both anamorphic (2.35:1) and pan-and-scan versions of the film; both are crisp, clean transfers. The Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is accompanied by English subtitles (which are not optional), while the brief list of extras includes a chatty, informative commentary by Serrano and a two-part "making-of" featurette (inexplicably, Part I is on Side B, and Part II is on Side A). Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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