Fifteen-year-old Lulu has never known any affection from her family. But when she goes to a rock concert with Pablo, a friend of the family, he introduces Lulu to her first sexual experience. Years later, Pablo and Lulu have married; Pablo has created a sheltered, private world for Lulu, into which nothing intrudes. However, Lulu tires of her cloistered existence, and begins hanging out in shady bars, looking for vicarious thrills and danger.
The Ages of Lulu is a gruelling sexual odyssey from Spanish director Bigas Luna, made immediately prior to his popular trilogy Jamón, jamón (1992), Golden Balls (1993) and The Tit and the Moon (1994). Starting as the somewhat queasy story of the young Lulu's affair with the manipulative Pablo (Oscar Ladoire), the movie takes a much darker turn once they are wed. It is conventional cinematic wisdom that there's no such thing as sex after marriage, but here Lulu's husband incomprehensibly leads her into blindfolded incest, then is heartbroken when she reacts with disgust.
Soon Lulu (superbly played by Francesca Neri from ingénue to hardened 30-something), is paying gay men for group sex, eventually becoming an unwilling attraction in a commercial sado-machochistic orgy. The closest most UK audiences will have come to this before is in Ken Russell's The Devils (1971) and Crimes of Passion (1984), and it is surely one of the most gut-churningly nightmarish scenes ever passed for home viewing. While Ages of Lulu may function as a reactionary warning against the wilder shores of sex, Luna's intention remains unsatisfyingly enigmatic, since the script is under-written and psychologically unconvincing. The end result is pretentious, repellent pornography which degrades human beings of any sexual persuasion.
On the DVD: The Ages of Lulu is transferred at an anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 and image quality is very good, though in some scenes very slightly soft. The film can be watched with or without English subtitles, and the sound is unremarkable stereo. The main extras are a seven-page essay on Bigas Luna and five pages detailing the now restored 110 seconds of cuts made to the 1998 video release. The main title still contains 65 seconds of alternate footage to the cinema original for legal reasons. Also included are filmographies of Lunas and Oscar Ladoire, two trailers plus trailers for six other films. --Gary S Dalkin --This text refers to the DVD edition.
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This film, however, seemed slightly empty to me; we never knew really "know" Lulu as the curtain shuts. We follow her from a 15 year old girl seduced by a much older man, to a mid-30 year old embarking on a sexual conquest of homosexual activity and S+M hi-jinks, but by the end, I didn't really know why she did what she did. She was never explored fully, and this was the big weakness of the film; as a central character, she never seemed like a character.
This is the films biggest weakness. There were strengths; the film was merciless in its slaying of taboos (paedophilia, incest, bondage, fisting), and yet it never felt that they were being put in their for the sake of it, and the screenplay provided context and justification for them. The acting was quite good; even if we are never allowed to see who she is, Francesca Neri put in a brave, committed and commendable performance as Lulu. Oscar Ladoire is also effective as the main love interest of Lulu, Pablo. It was competently made, drawing a perfect balance between arty and not overly showy, making it quite pretty to look at.
It also included a frankly unforgettable scene involving a threesome with Lulu, Pablo, and a transvestite which will not easily be forgotten once you've seen it.
As you can probably tell, prude people prone to blushing, or anyone with moderate sensibilities, need not apply.
All in all, it was a fairly good, incredulously graphic, shockingly rude film that is hampered by the fact that Lulu, as a character, never feels real. If she were given room to breath, I have no doubt that this film would have been some kind of odd masterpiece, instead of just a sex-fuelled oddity. Half recommended.
Author of The Early Years e-LOVE E-Dreams [(E-World)] [By (author) Ian Hunter] published on (August, 2011) Three Interludes Love's Anatomy Conversations Pets: An Adults' Tale
I am not gay neither am I homophobic, so the homoerotic scene, which was erotically supercharged, was great fun.
The later scenes have been described previously as wanting to make you puke. I didn't understand them at all. There was no detail in the film, so you would have to watch it with an S and M friend for an explanation.
Loved the incest. Very well done. A great moment in the film.
I imagine the film has a deep meaning for intelligent people. For myself I could not get beyond the intoxicating sexiness of the leading lady.
The only advice I can offer is don't watch it with your grandmother.
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