To preface, this is not going to be a traditional movie review of The Lure (or Córki dancingu in Polish); I spent an entire semester in college writing a shot-by-shot analysis of The Hours, and I feel I have met the lifetime quota for peppering in technical terms like “mise-en-scène” to create an overhead view of a film. What it IS going to be, however, is me INTERNET-YELLING AND GUSHING PROFUSELY, BECAUSE IT IS LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY EVERYTHING.
“What do you mean by that, Megan?”
Well, it’s a “mermaid horror musical comedy” (EVERYTHING), and is SO SO SO GREAT (EVERYTHING).
To break that down for you further…
MERMAID: The story centers on Golden and Silver, two mermaids who are essentially adopted by a family band they come across in Poland. They form an act at a nightclub and are a huge hit (because who wouldn’t be into those siren song vibes), and (as you might guess) the pair of them struggle to straddle the line between bein’ a human and bein’ a fish.
HORROR: Which brings us to the horror element, aka the part where they eat people. Their teeth are lamprey-esque (terrifying), and we see these being used to bite off fingers, munch on human hearts, etc. throughout the film. One of the mermaids tries to control these urges, and even opts to have her tail surgically removed and replaced by a human lower half (mostly because she wants a vagina // apparently nobody told her about periods or yeast infections), but that whole sequence is pretty horrific in and of itself re: gore. If you’re a fan of campy spooks, you’ll be v. satisfied by all of this. (Bonus: if you are a lady who would like to punch Donald Trump and the alt-right in the dick, watching men be mauled by mermaids is likely to feel very therapeutic.)
MUSICAL: The fact that this film is a musical is beyond absurd, and that’s what I maybe love most about it! Lots of people have been talking about how kicks La La Land‘s ass by a million, and I couldn’t agree more. GO BIG OR GO HOME. (Still no racial diversity, but to be fair, it’s set in Warsaw in the 1980s. Lots of nods to communism, PS.) Additionally, the music. Is. INCREDIBLE. The soundtrack (by Ballady i Romanse) isn’t available in the US yet, but we need it desperately. (So infectious, I cannot even.)
COMEDY: It’s funny! And so fucking weird! If you can stand to loosen your grip on reality and laugh at some dark shit (which we should get used to under this administration AMIRITE?!), then you’re going to love it just as much if not more (IMPOSSIBLE) than I did.
I saw the film last night at IFC Center, and director Agnieszka Smoczynska, writer Robert Bolesto and actress Marta Mazurek joined us for a post-screening Q+A. I asked all three of them what they’d do if faced with the decision of turning into sea foam or eating the person who broke your heart (which was a choice that had to be made in the film, and sadly did not just come from my brain), and while Agnieszka didn’t respond (at least I don’t think she did? IT WAS A REAL SOPHIE’S CHOICE!), Robert said he wasn’t sure, and Marta said she would choose the sea foam. (Diplomatic, to say the least.)
Another person asked about the costume design for the mermaids, and Agnieszka said the grotesque tails were very deliberate; she wanted to highlight the mythical monster vibes, and to draw attention to the fact that mermaids were said to have been related to dragons. Same goes for the teeth, which I mentioned were scary AF. And why mermaids? Agnieszka said they were a symbolic choice of girls coming of age.
So how do you even begin to pitch a concept like this? They said people obviously reacted how you would imagine: they assumed mental instability. However, the film was fortunately made! When asked about American audiences’ reactions vs. those of Polish people, they said we were much more open. In fact, in Poland there were lots of people who walked out of the movie, because they weren’t allowed to advertise it for what it was – no mention of mermaids or horror was permitted in the promos, so people basically thought they were in for a musical comedy sans man-eating lady-fish. (Geez, Poland…so uptight.)
But now that it’s here, and has received GLOWING PRAISE from way more people than just me, you have no excuse not to at least CONSIDER swinging by a screening. It’s admittedly not going to be for everybody, but still, even if you think you hate mermaids or horror or musicals or comedy, I thought the bizarre (yet also weirdly logical?) combination of genres somehow ended up translating into a perfectly balanced equation. It is so so so fun, and I repeat, SO SO SO EVERYTHING. Go see it. (You can turn me into sea foam if you don’t like it.)
IFC screening schedule here.