A review of “Lucia, Lucia” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: **

Rating: R for language, adult situations

Run Time: 1 hour, 53 minutes

 

 

Appealing characters and a master turn by Pedro Almodovar muse Cecilia Roth can’t salvage this abstract Mexican soap opera cum inventive New Wave mystery.

Lucía (Roth) is undergoing a mid-life crisis.  Unexpectedly abandoned by her husband Ramón (José Elias Moreno) as the pair is boarding a plane for a New Year’s Eve trip to Rio de Janeiro, Lucía returns home in a panic to a ransom call for a staggering 20 million pesos.  Dazed and confused, Lucia turns to her quirky apartment-house neighbors for comfort and support. 

While establishing a kinship with courtly, battle-weary Félix (Carlos Álvarez Novoa), and the seductive, impressionable Adrián (Hispanic television star Kuno Becker), Lucía turns inward. Newfound freedoms and flirtations result in marital reservations. Those subtle psychological shifts segue into visual transitions, as Lucía merrily narrates sudden alterations in her appearance, her apartment décor, and her tenuous grip on reality. 

Lucía explores the terrain of her surprise singles status while uncovering potentially disturbing (but less than surprising) evidence regarding her husband’s disappearance. Murder and betrayal rear their ugly heads. Is Ramón the victim of a sordid crime, or perhaps the perpetrator?

Mexico City becomes Lucía’s playground as she and her neighborly cohorts naively navigate their way through the clandestine world of government officials, extortionists, and corrupt Mexican police.  That banal burst of energy quickly runs out of gas, confusing the narrative and turning a subtle psychological mood piece into a giddy melodrama.

Kudos to the talented Roth for making the effort; too bad it didn’t pay off.