Lucia, Lucia

Dir. Antonio Serrano, 2003
Retitled from the unwieldy “La Hija del canibal” (Daughter of the Cannibal),
which, though the true to the original novel, suggests that this is a horror movie, instead of the mid-life crisis film it actually is. The movie starts off energetically, and I was a bit excited wondering whether again I was watching another chapter in the rebirth of Mexican cinema. Lucia (Celia Roth) plays a 40-something children’s book author whose husband mysteriously disappears at the airport just before a vacation trip. As the plot unwinds, she befriends two men in her apartment building, a young man and an old revolutionary, and they help her get to the bottom of the rather convoluted mystery. Of course, she grows as a person, and falls a bit in love with the younger man. It’s a bit like Shirley Valentine crossed with Under the Sand crossed with Y Tu Mama Tambien crossed with When The Cat’s Away, but not in that order.
Unfortunately, the movie has zero dramatic momentum. Lucia doesn’t seem to have lost much and if her marriage was so loveless, where’s the desire to get the husband back? The director throws in a lot of tricky narrative moves (which may be in the novel) and toys with subjectivity (she’s an author, see, and you know they make stories up) to no effect.
On a personal level, my wife is currently on a business trip to Mexico City and experiencing that city for the first time, so I got a kick out of seeing the locations. I almost expected her to have a walk-on as an extra.
After the film (which was a preview I was invited to sit in on) a fellow theatergoer asked my viewing companion what he thought. When he replied with lukewarm sentences, she said “Well, I guess you have to be a middle-aged woman,” which, in fact, she was. Nothing gets my goat like a phrase like that, as if to enjoy the Wizard of Oz you have to be a) 12-years-old b) from Kansas c) a girl and d) have survived a tornado. It runs counter to entire notions of what art is and can be.

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