The Lure (aka Córki dancingu) Movie Review
Written by Karin Crighton
Directed by Agnieszka Smoczynska
Written by Robert Bolesto
2016, 85 minutes, Not Rated
Michalina Olszanska as Golden
Marta Mazurek as Silver
Kinga Preis as Krysia
Jakub Gierszal as Mietek
Late one evening, caught up in the excitement of a successful performance at their cabaret gig, a small family is singing and cavorting on a beach in Warsaw. Drawn in by singing, two mermaid sisters find their way to the water's edge. Using their own siren call, they lure the father and teenage son to the shore to help them from the water. Out of the water, their tails dry to legs...but like Barbie, there's nothing else down there. Offered a job singing with the group at the cabaret, the girls jump on the chance to explore city life before swimming to America for the winter. Their magical voices drive business through the roof, but all is not well. Like so many other mermaid tales before The Lure, Silver falls desperately in love with the teenage son, knowing she can never truly be with him unless she has legs (though I think he would have settled for just the vagina). Golden on the other hand, wants only to feast her way through the delights of nightlife and doesn't want to leave Silver behind. Unable to suppress their opposing urges for love and to eat human hearts, their relationship with the family and each other begins to fall apart. When Silver must choose between Mietek and her survival, Golden realizes she must take matters into her own fangs.
There is so much folklore caught up on The Lure, I'm sure I only watched half the movie. There's an insider tone to director Agnieszka Smoczynska's wistfully romantic story that leaves a non-Pole out of the loop. That doesn't make the movie unenjoyable; it just makes the huge dance number through a shopping mall seem juxtaposed into an otherwise intimate plot. And the film takes a fairly relaxed stance about the exploitation of two teenage girls by the nightclub manager, a man well into his sixties. It makes no comment on the fact that the patriarch of the cabaret family offers them up to said manager in exchange for letting them sing, and then shows the manager where the "flap" is in their fish tails. It's a really disgusting and uncomfortable sequence that is shot to be alluring and flirty. Something was absolutely lost in translation.
Gritty, green-hued lighting permeates the film, both giving their world a murky feeling. One begins to feel like you're underwater, drowning on the rising danger the girls face. As Silver falls deeper in love, Hans Christian Andersen's bittersweet ending hovering in the air, the muted colors make it look the life of the mermaids are draining before your eyes. Their paths begin to diverge more violently, and Golden embarks on confusing and risky affairs with men and women that seem to have motives that aren't explained well. Or perhaps translated well. It's hard to say.
The suspense of the final sequence is devastating. You think you know what's going to happen because you've read this book, you've seen this movie, you KNOW the history. But Smoczynska has taken just enough liberties, twisted the personalities just enough, brought this world to life in just the right way that you'll be straining in your seat begging Silver to do the right thing. And when the shocking ending has passed, you'll still be left wondering why any of this had to happen. But maybe that's the point: Unless we learn from history we will be doomed to repeat it.