Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn Review: A penetrating satire | Sydney Film Festival Review | Sydney Film Festival Review | SWITCH.

BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONY PORN

★★★★

A PENETRATING SATIRE

SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
By Jake Watt
27th November 2021

With one of Europe's lowest vaccination rates, Romania is having a shitty time with the COVID pandemic. Politicians are blaming the public for refusing to get vaccinated due to suspicion of the government, deeply held religious beliefs, and conspiracy theories surging through social media. The public is blaming the politicians - for poor leadership, inadequate healthcare, stupidity and corruption. It's a crazy mess that has provided some fertile ground for Romanian writer-director Radu Jude's latest film 'Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn'.

Jude shot his film entirely during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, with cast and crew all wearing masks. The story revolves around Emi Cilibiu (Katia Pascariu), a history teacher at a posh Bucharest high school whose ex-husband uploads a graphic sex tape (seen in all its unsimulated glory at the beginning of the film) onto what he thinks is a private fetish website. Soon it's popping up on Pornhub and other blogs as Emi futilely tries to quash it. "Those I.T. people are notorious wankers," a character observes.

'BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONY PORN' TRAILER

People in the city are ill-tempered and pointlessly rude to one another (at one point, we see a short man park his oversized truck on a pedestrian crossing and walk away, forcing people to take a detour around it). Slowly, the film begins to outline that this isn't just because of the inconveniences posed by the pandemic. There are underlying societal issues that Jude wants to explore.

'Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn' is split into three chapters. 'One Way Street', in which Emi walks around a socially distanced Bucharest, taking calls on her phone as she makes her way to the school for a meeting about her career. 'A Short Dictionary Of Anecdotes, Signs, And Wonders', where the narrative is paused to read out a dictionary of terms, in 26 alphabetical sections, covering everything from dictatorships to cunts, global warming, and Jesus, accompanied by quotes from noted thinkers; and 'Praxis And Innuendos (Sitcom)', where Emi must defend herself to staff and parents who are concerned about her ability to continue teaching students.

Dildos are forcefully fellated.

Aside from the five minutes of explicit hardcore sex and nudity sprinkled throughout the film, 'Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn' is reminiscent of the absurdist observational humour of Elia Suleiman ('It Must Be Heaven') and the scathing satire of Sergei Loznitsa ('Donbass').

The film is filled with contrast and juxtaposition. As Emi wanders around, the camera drifts away to rest on things like a COVID testing tent set up in front of a funeral parlour, or an advertisement for an MMA gym featuring two beefy men next to a different ad for a bar named La Strada (bringing to mind Fellini's film about a tragic circus strongman).

It all culminates at the parent-teacher conference and what is essentially the trial of Emi, where the upper-class parents vote on whether she should be fired. At one stage, the characters squabble over the poetic works of Mihai Eminescu, whose life, work and poetry strongly influenced the Romanian culture. Misogyny, classism, anti-semitism and other ugly political views are spewed by the attendees. Dildos are forcefully fellated. Jude makes a strong statement about cultural hypocrisy and his film makes a neat companion piece to the recent (and no less scathing) documentary 'Collective'.

'Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn' is a funny, thoughtful, incisive, overwhelming and frequently pornographic portrait of a fractured country. It's a difficult film to describe, but an even more difficult film not to recommend.

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