This will be no surprise to readers who know my taste in film, but I like it weird. I like violence intersecting art. I like burlesque mashing-up with David Bowie. And now, thanks to the opening film of the Boston Underground Film Festival, I now know that I like fantastical creatures breaking out into song. Mermaids and musicals: Where have you been all of my life?
THE LURE is a film that can be easily summarized, but not easily understood because it is far greater than the sum of its parts. The Polish film is a mermaid tale (or tail- get it?) wherein two mermaid sisters wander onto land to become nightclub singers. Silver (Marta Mazurek) and Golden (Michalina Olszanska) are minding their own business in the ocean when they happen upon a trio of drunken swimmers, and rather than eating them right away, they agree to follow them to their discothèque.
THE LURE builds comfortably upon the classic and violent roots of fairy tales. Like Disney, mermaids are great singers and impossibly beautiful, but unlike Disney traditional mer-people are deadly creatures. Closer to sirens than friendly flounders these creatures lure men to their deaths and feast on their flesh. When on land Golden and Silver are beautiful and playful young women, resembling eunuchs with great breasts. But splash a little water on them and their tails and vaginas emerge. The eel-like tails are not particularly sexy, but that does not stop them from being the object of desire from nearly every man they see.
Closer to sirens than friendly flounders these creatures lure men to their deaths and feast on their flesh.
While on land Silver falls in love, which causes a rift between her and Golden. Golden then turns to rebel against her fading relationship with her sister and seeks the company of another fantastical creature she happens upon one night. The story, and Silver’s blind love of a total loser, is heart breaking, but is overshadowed by the musical numbers in the film.
The musical trio who adopt the mermaid siblings are the featured act at their local dance club. Though there are women dancing, and stripping, during many of their numbers, often the music is enough to keep the crowds happy and drinking. Adding the mermaids and their siren’s songs to the act makes for mesmerizing interruptions to the film in high-concept musical numbers. We see them first singing back-up, before moving forward on stage and dominating the club. During one frenzied punk number the entire audience is gripped by their music and thrown into a manic state of debauchery. Strobing lights, pumping music, and outlandish costumes teeter this scene on the edge of celebratory and frightening chaos, and signal the shifting tide in the film from cute fairy tale to a much darker timeline.
Deadly mermaids, Eastern European pop music, and crushing dreams may not initially seem like a wonderful combination, but THE LURE mixes these elements together beautifully. The film is outstandingly odd, and for that I love it.