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  Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn Sex Negative
Year: 2021
Director: Radu Jude
Stars: Katia Pascariu, Claudia Ieremia, Olimpia Milai, Nicodim Ungureanu, Alexandru Potocean, Andi Vasluianu, Oana Maria Zaharia, Gabriel Spahiu, Florin Petrescu, Stefan Steel, Alex Bogdan, Kristina Cepraga, Ana Ciontea, Ion Dichiseanu, Cristina Draghici
Genre: Comedy, Drama, SexBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Emilia (Katia Pascariu) is a schoolteacher in Bucharest, she is married and lives what she considers a normal life. But one night, in private, she has sex with her husband and he tries to spice things up by filming the entertainment on his phone, which he then uploads to his laptop. Then the laptop has to go in for repair and here, believes Emilia, is where the problems begin since someone in the repair shop took the video off the laptop and uploaded it to a porn site. Every time she tries to get it taken down she is thwarted as it pops up somewhere else, and before long the video has gone viral at the school, where the pupils and parents see it...

Writer and director Radu Jude had something to say about his home nation of Romania in this satire of sexual mores, but what was interesting, and perhaps disturbing, was how it could be applied across the board to anywhere on the globe that uses social media: the endless judging, the hypocrisy, the boosting of ego by belittling others, it was all here in this fictional but believable case of Emilia. The film itself was divided into three parts, one where she tries to get her affairs in order in preparation for that evening's public tribunal, the next where we were given a rundown of topics and observations on Romania and sex, and lastly that contentious meeting itself.

This was a Golden Bear winner at Berlin, which surprised some as it was a piece so provocative that to side with it seemed to be an act of provocation as well. Many Romanians were unhappy about the film, and no wonder when the most patriotic among them were portrayed as racist, sexist, moronic buffoons more interested in celebrating the mass death of military victories and backing conspiracy theories that had little bearing in reality. But Jude was not like that, from this evidence he was something of a lucid thinker with a genuine, well-thought out and positive agenda to bring to his nation, and beyond that, the rest of Eastern Europe and further, to the rest of the world.

Part 1 is mostly Emilia plodding through the streets since she has no transport to get to her various destinations, including her warily supportive headmistress's house and the chemist to buy a tranquiliser for her nerves. But we take in what we see, from the crumbling edifices of the buildings to the abusive members of the public who are mostly wearing pandemic masks, but largely when it suits them, and are not shy about using sexually explicit insults to perform a weird game of oneupmanship on their fellow citizens that comes across as utterly pointless when they are all in the same boat. But the sexual angle to the abusive language is vital to the overall effect, as it shows how readily people use sex as a basis to attack or bring others down. Which is precisely what is happening to Emilia as we witness at the school meeting, a sense that the public are champing at the bit to express their hatred and lash out.

Therefore any time a likely candidate crops up for haranguing, they jump at the chance to pile on: Emilia has found herself one such focus, and she kind of knows there's nothing she can say to persuade the aggrieved parents and guardians that she is the innocent party here: she didn't take the video, she didn't distribute it and what the hell were the parents doing allowing their kids to watch porn in the first place? But the fact she was playing adult games with her husband is not enough for the anti-brigade, there's an insinuation she should never have sex in the first place, or even entertain sexual thoughts, even with her husband. Sex isn't fun anymore, it's been weaponised by a new, ironically salacious puritanism that goes hand in hand with the kind of mindset that votes in fascists and Communist dictatorships alike, powered by the religious conservatives, and allows all the atrocities that follow in that wake. If that sounds like a film with a lot on its mind, in its scrappy, scattershot way this managed to hit its targets with vented frustration and aplomb. And an ending for the Marvel fans - keep the audience happy!

Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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