Not many films can start with three minutes of explicit sex and proceed to be both smarter and more shocking from there, but Radu Jude’s latest manages to continually one-up itself in its exploration of personal and performative hypocrisy. Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn picks up steam when the woman in this recording – despite wearing a mask – is identified as local schoolteacher Emi. By this point the masks worn in public are of a pandemic nature, and the school must find a safe way to convene and give parents and Emi a forum for their grievances and opportunity for a thoroughly, transparently democratic solution – if that is even possible.

The film is divided into three sections, but only the first and third are concerned with the sex tape leak and the fallout. The middle section is an irreverent, humorous, and visually unforgettable challenge to perceptions of language and morality. At first the images seem to have no relation to the story, but as each is undercut with a slightly-slanted definition and equally tangential footage, the malleability of justice and interpretation of truth is playfully skewered. This section is perhaps ten minutes too long, but the ambition is faultless.

While sexuality is the film’s taboo of choice, the juxtaposition of racial and cultural prejudices in documentary footage and throwaway comments is telling. The racism of denying a Roma woman entry onto a bus or antisemitism of casual verbal abuse highlight the absurdity of any moral separatism – it is as subtle as a sledgehammer but delicacy would be even more tasteless.

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn is great luck for audiences looking for a surprising, subversive, imaginative take on language, sex, and the endless meanings of both. As its escalating three-part ending mirrors its three-part structure, its bold, brash approach proves unforgettable.

RATING: 4/5


INFORMATION

CAST: Katia Pascariu, Claudia Ieremia, Olimpia Mălai, Nicodim Ungureanu, Alexandru Potocean, Andi Vasluianu

DIRECTOR: Radu Jude

WRITER: Radu Jude

SYNOPSIS: After a teacher’s sex tape is leaked, she must face the wrath of parents in a pandemic.

[TRAILER FORTHCOMING]