Directed by Agnieszka Smoczynska. Starring Marta Mazurek, Michalina Olszanska, Kinga Preis, Andrzej Konopka, Jakub Gierszal, Zygmunt Malanowicz, Magdalena Cielecka, Marcin Kowalczyk. (2017, NR, 92 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., April 21, 2017
A gloriously genre-defying mash-up of melodrama, romance, musical, and cultural subtext masquerading as a horror film, Fantastic Fest favorite The Lure is utterly original and alluring as director Smoczynska puts the ghastly in fishnets, literally. The human/piscine hybrid sisters of The Lure are definitely not BFFs with fellow submarine belter Ariel, but they sure do a number on the seaside village where they wash up. Silver (Mazurek) and Golden (Olszanska) spot a handsome blond bass player, Mietek (Gierszal), crooning onshore, sparking the initially carnivorous pair to take human form and follow the music to a local cabaret run by Mietek’s family, including a father-cum-showrunner (Malanowicz) and aging chanteuse mother (Preis). Attractive, young, and ostensibly human, the duo join the act, performing in the fishy buff while reclining in giant cocktail glasses. Now that’s evolution!
As Silver topples further into dry-dock love with the Mietek, Golden takes the low road and starts getting toothily carnivorous. Villagers go missing, but the sirens’ song remains keyed in the same – ahem – jugular vein. Written by Fantastic Fest alum Robert Bolesto (Hardkor Disko), this cinematic hybrid of the sensual and the sublime is like nothing you’re likely to see coming from our own shores anytime soon, or ever.
Yes, it conforms – or maybe adapts – to the strictest tropes of the movie musical in that the songs are memorable and arise organically from the story, but there’s more going on here than meets the ear, or the throat. A pervasive sense of melancholy, loss, and longing pervades both the predations of the erotically sinister sisters and the whole of the film itself. (They’re planning on swimming to America, but love and Warsaw get in the way.) Smoczynska handles it all with death-sexy panache, aided and abetted in this superior catch by some drop-dead gorgeous cinematography courtesy of Jakub Kijowski, and a boatload of seriously eye-popping set-pieces that’d do a warped Busby Berkeley proud. This is one fish tale that’s well nigh guaranteed to linger in the viewers’ midnight memories long after its cinematic nocturnal emissions have unspooled.