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Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn

Critic:

Alasdair MacRae

|

Posted on:

18 Jan 2022

Film Reviews
Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
Directed by:
Radu Jude
Written by:
Radu Jude
Starring:
Katia Pascariu, Claudia Ieremia, Olimpia Malai
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Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn is the latest film from Romanian new wave director Radu Jude. The narrative revolves around schoolteacher Emi, whose private sex tape has somehow made it onto the internet and now her job is under threat.

 

The film is divided into three acts with an additional prologue and epilogue. Whilst Emi’s ‘trial’ at the hands of the parent-teacher association may take place in the third act, Jude’s film represents a defence from the outset.

 

The prologue functions as Exhibit A, the sex tape in question, an explicit but clumsy amateur film. Around the cinema, there may be gasps and a feeling of unease. Some people decide to talk through it to quell their discomfort. But to resign this to shock value would be reductive. It may be something that is unusual for cinemagoers to see on the big screen but this begins the defence; that the video is not in fact offensive, merely taboo. Without showing the tape Jude’s argument would lose all credibility, and as he goes on to display, sex tapes are the least of society’s issues.

 

Act one follows Emi in her daily life as she wanders the streets, visiting shops and markets. The camera is frequently disinterested in her, floating away to capture comic observations of daily life in Romania in a documentary-like fashion. There are billboards of buff men and sexually suggestive women. Shops selling Frozen and emoji branded backpacks occupy equal time and space as those which sell religious literature. Men get out of ridiculously oversized cars, or just clutter the streets, sometimes doing nothing more than holding a rather large watermelon. Amongst this we see glimpses of male entitlement and rage: one man hits another with his car as they quarrel about who has right of way. Altogether the camera is more interested in documenting any and all of these things than our grey suit-wearing protagonist. Jude exonerates her by effectively eschewing her from her own story.

 

The second act is where Jude gets to the real crux of the matter through the medium of an unconventional dictionary segment. Presented like a slideshow, we see Romanian words and their cultural definitions; sometimes satirical and humorous, at other times they spark outrage. All serve to turn the spotlight on the failings of Romanian society. He juxtaposes blowjobs with genocide; making explicit references to widespread sexism, child abuse, and the tightening grip of fascism. The images displayed here are undoubtedly the most shocking in the film which threatens to make the surrounding plot feel totally redundant.

 

For the third act, we return to Emi who awaits a trial at the hands of the parent-teacher association. It begins with the parents demanding to watch the sex tape because they need to see the evidence (cue the men watching lasciviously). The farcical affair spirals further out of control as discussions that extend as far as to the morality of education are heckled by one individual incessantly making ‘road runner sounds’. This segment of the film becomes rather testing the longer it plays out, mainly due to the frustration that backwards minded individuals who dominate conversation are a current fixture in daily life. Fortunately, the epilogue rounds the film off with a cathartic flourish.

 

During the second act, cinema is defined by relating it to Perseus’ shield: the mirror used to indirectly look at and consequently slay Medusa. Whilst Jude’s film does clarify the serpentine foe in a unique and incisive fashion, there are times we begin to stare directly at our adversary and feel paralysed by despair.

About the Film Critic
Alasdair MacRae
Alasdair MacRae
Theatrical Release, World Cinema