Review: BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONY PORN A Dark And Stinging Satire

Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn(We Bad Luck Banging screened last month at the 30th Annual Philadelphia Film Festival. It is currently scheduled for a limited theatrical release this Friday, November 19.)

Romanian director Radu Jude’s latest film, Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn, is more than just the story of a teacher (Katia Pascariu) whose private sex tape made with her husband getting uploaded to the internet and the furor it raises with her students’ parents. It is also a scathing indictment of some of the hypocrisies of Romania society that unfortunately rings a little too close to home for Americans as well.

Interestingly, Jude has structured the film as something of a triptych. The two ends of the film tell the story, while the middle section becomes something of an essay film, but more on that in a moment.

To say that this film starts off provocatively is a bit of an understatement as Jude spends the first five minutes or so showing us the sex tape in question. And yes, it is ever bit as graphic as you would expect. (Jude substituted an actual porn actress for lead Pascariu for certain shots.) Jude certainly does not shy away from the premise of the movie. And good luck to its US distributor Magnolia with dealing with the MPAA’s ratings board on this.

But after those first five minutes, we spend the next twenty or so minutes just following Emi as she walks around Bucharest on errands. There is little dialogue, mostly her on her cell phone trying to mitigate the damage from the uploaded video. Jude’s lens often lingering on crowd shots for a long time before and after Emi has crossed through the frame. The overall effect here doesn’t just serve to render Emi somewhat anonymous in the city, but to perhaps suggest that other people whom she may be passing have done similar things with their own lovers but who have the luxury of not having been publicly outed for it in the way she has been.

At times, Jude’s eye is distracted by or lingers on some of the sexual imagery that we find ourselves surrounded by every day, be it in advertising, the broken torso of a mannequin laying on a sidewalk, insults (“Suck my dick!”) or even classical statuary. Him pointing out its pervasiveness is not him being prudish. How could you think that after this film’s opening? Instead it helps to set the stage for pointing out the hypocrisy of the parents in the film’s third section.

But before he gets to Emi’s confrontation with her student’s parents, Jude takes a solid chunk of time to explore the meanings of specific words in a series of ten-second vignettes. Some, like the definition for “efficiency” being just a slow pan from the front of a funeral home to a hospital’s Emergency Room entrance less than 100 yards away, are darkly funny. Others, like the definition supplied for “Christmas” involving Nazi soldiers quickly executing a number of Russian Jews and Romani in order for them to be free to “celebrate Christ’s birth,” point to the potential for horrific hypocrisy. Nearly all of these words help set the scene for the final section of the film.

The film resumes its narrative as Emi arrives at her school to meet with her student’s parents. It is a meeting that is often contentious, but not for the reasons you would think. As set up by the first section of the film, the aggrieved parents are using the discovery of Emi’s sex tape as an excuse to making her scapegoat for numerous other, unrelated grievances. She is called a slut by one mother, but what was Emi’s crime? Having a healthy sex life with her husband? That is certainly not behavior one would associate with that term. (And how does the mother think her own child was conceived?) Another parent is upset that in Emi’s history class they deal with some of the less admirable parts of Romania’s history, including atrocities committed during World War Two, demanding that such things not be taught. If that sounds like you the current right-wing outrage of Critical Race Theory, you aren’t far off. The parent who spouts off Covid-19 conspiracy theories also sounds sadly familiar.

Ultimately, the parent’s various complaints reveal more about themselves and their prejudices than they are good faith arguments as to why Emi is unfit to continue teaching. As the parent group is serving as a microcosm for Romania itself, Jude is chastising his fellow countrymen for perpetuating the real problems they may be facing by allowing themselves to be distracted and divided by inconsequential issues. Sadly, this is an observation that is all too universal these days.

Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn

About Rich Drees 6866 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty years experience writing about film and pop culture.
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