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Impressively graphic, yet oddly empty
on 6 April 2013
I always measure a character study by how well we've come to know the characters by the end of the film. In Shame, for example, I genuinely felt that I knew Fassbender's Brandon as a person, such was the craft of the acting and film-making; we peered into his very soul. In Cashback, we felt we knew Biggerstaff's Ben, because that film took the time to establish him properly. Those two very different films used two radically different techniques to fulfil the same role; make a character, make us know the character, make us seem real.
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.