(Agnieszka Smoczyńska, 2015)
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
Summary: Polish sci-fi/horror/musical mashup The Lure is a blistering journey out of many a Brit's cinematic comfort zone. Embrace it.
The Lure is such a vibrant film that you'll struggle to part your eyes from it. This is a film that headily mixes body horror, exploitation, studies of sexuality, social outcasts and Hollywood-style musical numbers to outrageous effect. There's no denying that this film has swagger from its plot to its tone.
Agnieszka Smoczyńska's film tells the story of two young mermaids who wash up on the shores of 1980s Poland only to end up singing and dancing in a sleazy nightclub. As with the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, there's a conflicting mixture of glam and grime to keep the audience guessing and never quite knowing where they sit.
While it certainly lacks the charm of the Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah mermaid hit Splash, there are moments of (darkly veiled) joy to be had from The Lure's kinetic energy and how it shakes up gender stereotypes.
In a way, it feels like the staggering sci-fi drama The Man Who Fell to Earth - a condemnation of society that starred David Bowie as an alien who in trying to get back to his home planet and save his family ends up succumbing the many vices of contemporary earth from pistols and alcohol to television and sex. Consider The Lure to be cut from a similar cloth with its aliens taking mermaid form. Few films in recent memory have been this risky, probing or invigorating.
It's a sad fact that Polish films are hard to come by in the UK. Second Run have done a great job at bringing some hidden gems to glistening view with their sublime and testing (yet rewarding) releases in recent years. Now Criterion are helping those ripples turn to waves with this wonderful discovery. This is a journey out of many a Brit's cinematic comfort zone. Embrace it.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION:
• High-definition digital master, supervised by director of photography Kuba Kijowski, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New program about the making of the film, featuring interviews with director Agnieszka Smoczyńska, actors Marta Mazurek and Michalina Olszańska, screenwriter Robert Bolesto, Kijowski, composers Barbara and Zuzanna Wrońskie, sound designer Marcin Lenarczyk, and choreographer Kaya Kołodziejczyk
• Deleted scenes
• Aria Diva (2007) and Viva Maria! (2010), two short films by Smoczyńska
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: An essay by novelist, playwright, and storyteller Angela Lovell