2017. Directed by Agnieszka Smoczynska.
A sublimely bizarre horror musical, The Lure blends kaleidoscopic visuals with an ’80s pop sheen to present a delirious, female focused coming of age tale. Flittering between genres, Smoczynska’s euro glitz bonanza unleashes a plethora of themes into its carnival of flesh; however, this is a film that is having far too much fun to be world altering. Featuring uncomfortable sexual truths beneath blood tinged fish scales; this is currently one of the most unique offerings of 2017.
Carnivorous Mermaids Silver and Golden become enamored with a rock band they encounter on a beach. They return with the group to a strip club where they become exploited performers, causing the sirens to drift apart, one towards embracing her predatory nature while the other longs for humanity. Robert Bolesto’s script is purposefully shallow; however, the direction elevates the material into an euphoric trip through the development of female sexuality as an allegory for the mistreatment of immigrants. Young women as objects of lust for salacious old men is nothing new, but the presentation defies any sense of surrender to the tropes that often trap a film like this in rehashed mediocrity. The weakness of the lyrics, in which the girls communicate their fledgling desires, would easily rebuke, yet the viewer is helplessly enraptured by the pastel world to which they’ve been submerged.
Marta Mazurek and Michalina Olszanska deliver a pair of entrancing performances. While their respective arcs are telegraphed, they do solid work with each side of their aquatic yin and yang. Their committal to the lyrical abandon is both uncomfortable in a John Waters way (hat tip to a colleague) and intermittently hilarious. The choice of the ’80s time period initially seems awkward, but once the musical numbers begin, the framework of parasitic indulgence and material obsession becomes perfectly clear. While there are no doubt some cultural touches foreign audiences may miss, viewers can no doubt commiserate on a decade of cocaine fueled abandon.
Jakub Kijowski’s cinematography is elegant through its instability, perfectly emulating the raw kinetics of puberty through dazzling shots of the night club and its denizens. Warm blues and reds flood the interior while the outside world is framed in an alien, institutionalized manner to extrapolate on the girl’s curiosity with their new surroundings. The Lure is a story about extremes, where the blood is bright crimson and the villains are especially sleazy and it mostly works. Marcin Charlicki’s visual effects bolster over the top antics with intriguing displays of body horror and abrupt violence, entwining the soft terror with Smocynska’s refutation on committal. The end result is something unique, but undoubtedly divisive.
Available now for digital streaming with a looming Criterion Collection release to come, The Lure is an inverted Alice in Wonderland head spinner. Its immediately apparent lack of depth is overcome through outlandish visuals and bristling compositions of musical ardor. If you’re looking for a truly unique film that eschews subtlety in favor of jackhammer presentation, The Lure Will not disappoint.