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‘The Lure’, aka ‘Córki dancingu’ (review)

Produced by Włodzimierz Niderhaus
Written by Robert Bolesto
Directed by Agnieszka Smoczyńska
Starring Marta Mazurek, Michalina Olszańska,
Kinga Preis, Jakub Gierszał, Andrzej Konopka,
Zygmunt Malanowicz, Magdalena Cielecka
Katarzyna Herman, Marcin Kowalczyk

 

The Lure isn’t the first musical about mermaids, but I’m fairly certain it’s the first Polish musical/horror film about man-eating, vicious, telepathic mermaids who find work as backup singers in a strip club.

Whatever else The Lure is, run-of-the-mill it ain’t.

Two mermaid sisters, Silver and Golden, come ashore one night and are taken in by members of a band which plays at a local strip club. As with the usual mermaid lore, their tails turn into humanoid legs while on dry land.

Though, in a perverse twist on the legend, they lack genitalia or anuses. “Smooth like Barbie”, notes one character.

Things go swimmingly (sorry) for a while, though potential trouble sets in when one of the sisters begins falling in love with the cute bassist in the band.

The film is a bit lackadaisical – and at times confusing – in its storytelling, and it’s not completely satisfying dramatically.

That said, it works as both horror and musical. There’s a lot of blood (and rampant nudity) and a ton of musical numbers, especially for a 92 minute film.

The numbers range from enjoyable to flat-out terrific, with a particularly bizarre musical number taking place during a gory surgery.

The styles of music are all over the map, in a good way. They range from show tunes to rock to ballads to punk, with lyrics that are sometimes blunt, sometimes quite witty and oft-times cryptic or poetic.

The performances are persuasive, the filmmaking often striking. There’s some nice editing in a sequence which cuts between a character being showered by feathers from a pillow and the mermaids contemplating murder in the falling snow.

While the film is never especially frightening, it IS bloody and disturbing, and it’s nice to see some of the songs actually contribute to the creepy atmosphere. This isn’t a musical that grinds to a halt once the songs kick in.

I read an interview with Steven Spielberg years ago in which he offered his axiom on Musicals: he felt he would only make a particular musical if he would still want to tell its story if it had no musical numbers.
This makes a lot of sense; some of the very best musicals do tell compelling stories that would work sans musical numbers.

However, I think The Lure’s story and its very existence as a musical are intertwined.  While there have certainly been horrific, non-musical takes on mermaids that have worked on their own terms, The Lure absolutely works best as is.  Just as some stories were meant to be told in graphic novel form, some work best on stage, etc., The Lure was meant to be a musical.

A flawed film, to be sure, but if you’re open to the premise, you’ll likely find a lot to enjoy and admire here.

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