Studio: Criterion Collection
Director: Agnieszka Smoczynska
Writer: Robert Bolesto
Producer: Wlodzimierz Niderhaus
Stars: Kinga Preis, Michalina Olszanska, Maria Mazurek, Jakub Gierszal, Andrzej Konopka, Zygmunt Malanowicz, Marcin Kowalczyk, Magdalena Cielecka, Katarzyna Herman
Romance complicates the relationship between two cannibalistic mermaid sisters when they become singers in a nightclub act.
I predominately review horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and thriller movies because those are genres I feel I “get.” It’s not that I’m incapable of critiquing movies from broader categories. It’s simply that a fair portion of my life is now and has historically been immersed in the culture of cinema’s stranger sides, which includes conventions, clothing, activities, etc.
Be that as it may, I occasionally come across a genre movie whose quirks land it so far outside my personal affinities, I consider recusing myself from writing a review on the grounds that my viewpoint may mean as much as a non-drinker’s opinion of beer. “The Lure” could be such a film. A few frames of fierce gore coming courtesy of its fanged female leads qualify “The Lure” as horror. But its concurrent status as a comedic musical rife with colorful stage numbers marks its appeal as an acquired taste to be sure.
Mermaid sisters Silver and Golden, the latter of whom weirdly has dark hair, almost entrance guitarist Mietek and his drummer father with their siren song. Then a shriek from Mietek’s singing mother shatters the spell to put surprised looks on everyone’s faces.
Silver and Golden end up adopted into the musical family’s stage show at a Polish cabaret, where they perform as strippers as well as singers. A problematic patch is hit when Silver and Mietek end up with eyes for each other. Golden’s nostrils flare at the romance, though there is greater concern over how far her sister is willing to go to win a human’s love.
Mietek sees Silver as more fish than woman. So Silver wants to saw off her tail and exchange it for a true lower torso, and all the appendages that come with. Another former creature of the sea, now guised as a heavy metal vocalist, warns Golden that her sister is setting herself up to be turned into sea foam according to legend. Golden is naturally worried. Except she has the additional issue of being wanted for murder after satiating her mermaid urge to feast on a man’s heart.
I’m no authority when it comes to evaluating a musical’s bread and butter. Spontaneous song and dance is a good way for me to fall out of a film’s fiction, and Broadway theatrics don’t do anything for my eyes or my ears.
Are the songs “good?” With everything said and sung in Polish, getting a handle on word rhythm and cadence isn’t easy for a foreign ear already out of tune with pageantry presentation.
What I can say objectively about “The Lure’s” performance pieces is that some of them play like abrupt music videos rather than as organic asides of fantasy. My point of reference would be “La La Land,” where musical numbers serve narrative functions as essential scenes. Here, not every lyric moves the plot.
It could be that focusing on slick style, which the movie definitely has, is the contributing cause of a scattered story. In threading needles of musical, horror, fantasy, comedy, and drama, “The Lure” loses sight of big picture meanings behind themes of family bonds, the limits of love, and the human struggles both can bring, even if they are brought to mermaids. There is electric energy in acting and scenery. It just doesn’t always singe as deeply as subtext aches to go.
As a purely offbeat, “out there” experience unlike few other films in existence, “The Lure” is an acid trip of alluring oddness. Michalina Olszanska and Maria Mazurek are as arresting as one would expect of unusual animal women, even if their youthful appearances combined with plentiful nudity can be more discomforting than seductive. One wishes that they and their supporting cast had more opportunities to put further flesh and fins on personalities. As much as “The Lure” does, it strangely feels like not enough given all of the concepts and characters being worked with.
All in all, I’m uncertain if three stars out of five is one too few or one too many. A memorable movie is in order no matter what anyone ultimately thinks once it’s over. “The Lure’s” slightly flighty edge of humorous musicality takes its horror story out of my personal wheelhouse. Maybe the weirdness that comes from a spirited subgenre smorgasbord will put it in yours.
NOTE: The film’s Polish title is “Corki dancingu.”
Review Score: 60