Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jane Fae

Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn
"At times, the dialogue is well done, scores points. At other times, it felt like we had wandered into a Socratic symposium." | Photo: Silviu Ghetie/Micro Film 2021

Bad Luck Banging, the viewer is warned, both on the publicity material and on screen, before hardly a minute has passed, “contains several scenes with extraordinarily explicit sexual content. (but it's a comedy)”

The warning is true. If it wasn’t quite the first image, I found myself, within seconds of hitting play, eye to eye with an erect penis. That, i can tell you, is NOT what your average post-sexual is especially keen to view over her morning coffee and biscuit. This is followed by some very enthusiastic, no-holds-barred banging, with close ups and bodily fluids liberally sprinkled about the set.

So it’s a sex film? Not really. That, apart from some gratuitous insertions later on - some involving actual insertion, most merely passive voyeuristic images of “private bits” - is an end to it. The banging, of the title, and of the plot, is pretty much done with by the second minute. Or maybe third. I wasn’t timing it!

Then, if it’s not a sex film, it’s a comedy? Not exactly. I can see why writer/ director, Radu Jude wants to position it as such. But quirky music and even quirkier voice-over and captions do not a comedy make. So what is it? And how come it has already swept up a trio of Best Film awards at prestigious festivals, including Berlin, earlier this year.

It is a discourse in three parts. Definitely parts, and not acts. Four, if you count the initial intercourse!

A teacher at a prestigious school, Emi/Emilia (Katia Pascariu) has indulged i some highly smutty hanky-panky with her husband Eugen. Little is left to the imagination, and this is an important feature of what follows.

Unhappily for Emi the film has ended up on the internet. Either - it is not entirely clear - as a result of bad behaviour by the nerds at her local PC repair shop, or through the stupidity of aforementioned husband. However it got there, it now sits, a ticking time bomb, primed to explode at an upcoming parents’ meeting chaired by headmistress (Claudia Ieremia).

The first act, in which Emi goes about her daily chores includes a lot of walking through an urban dystopia. Navigating a landscape of bad temper and sexualised advertising - “I like it deep”, proclaims one poster for chocolate (?) - in which noise of traffic is incessant, she encounters a lot of people being routinely nasty.

There is the potty-mouthed Karen in the supermarket shopping queue, loudly demanding to speak with the manager; the badly parked guy, sat in his car, obstructing the pavement, and not moving for anyone; too, the impatient driver, running down a pedestrian at a zebra crossing. The whole is interspersed with longueurs as camera dwells on burnt out buildings and urban decay.

For the UK viewer, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Emi’s peregrinations are the public wearing of masks, and smoking of cigarettes. So un-English!

Otherwise, the point of this segment appears to be to spotlight the banality of everyday nastiness. As Radu Jude has said, in the context of his film: “We are used to acts which are much more obscene, in a way, than small acts like the one that set off the uproar we see in the film.”

Or as the dialogue has it: “The more idiotic an opinion, the more important it is”.

Then it’s all change as a caption card introduces a “short dictionary of anecdotes, signs and wonders”. This is an oddity, almost a half-time interlude. It’s chance for the director to foreground a variety of pensees about the church, army and traditional economic values (he’s not a fan of any of them!) that he had jotted down and had nowhere else to drop. Some - the camera lingering over a woman’s genitals, her face obscured, with only the caption, “cunt is a synecdoche”, to guide us - are interesting, even insightful. Others are very crude propagandist tilts at wider society. The woke will applaud: the unwoke will be annoyed.

Then, third act, that parents’ meeting. This is the closest the film gets to a more familiar narrative structure. It succeeds, for the most part, in exploring the petty hypocrisies of those opposed to porn - but happy to let their children roam free on the internet - and all the while spewing the most exquisite hatred towards Jews, Roma and homosexuals.

Yet, it is not real. At times, the dialogue is well done, scores points. At other times, it felt like we had wandered into a Socratic symposium as alternately Emi and various parents grab their phones and read off long chunks of sociological discourse and educational theory.

In the end, I liked this film. It is messy, not altogether coherent, and delivers neither of the promises set out on the label. For it is neither sex film, nor comedy. Still, it was entertaining and in the end, that was what mattered.

I’d certainly watch it again (averting my eyes through the first few minutes): and I will smile a wry smile at some of the discourse. I will not be laughing out loud.

Reviewed on: 26 Nov 2021
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Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn packshot
Emi, a school teacher, finds her career and reputation under threat after a personal sex tape is leaked on the Internet.
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Director: Radu Jude

Writer: Radu Jude

Starring: Tudorel Filimon, Claudia Ieremia, Olimpia Malai, Ilinca Manolache, Daniela Ionita Marcu, Katia Pascariu, Alexandru Potocean, Nicodim Ungureanu, Andi Vasluianu, Dana Voicu

Year: 2021

Runtime: 106 minutes

Country: Romania, Croatia, Czech Republic, Luxembourg


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