Katia Pascariu in Babardeală cu bucluc sau porno balamuc | Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn by Radu Jude | ROU, LUX, HRV, CZE 2021, Competition | © Silviu Ghetie / Micro Film 2021

Bucharest Boorishness – Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn (Berlinale 2021 Film Review)

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In a year already filled with surprises and other peculiar circumstances, the winner of this year’s Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival was given to a film that appropriately opened with a literal bang. In Radu Jude’s Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, his aptly titled film commences with a home-made sex tape riddled with erotic role-play, anal sex, penetration, and even a brief poster cameo of Adina Pintilie’s Touch Me Not — a film which also garnered the coveted Golden Bear award a few years back. If the already long-winded title didn’t already grab your attention, then the opening scene is bound to hook the most avid, courageous, and precarious of arthouse cinephiles on a unique cinematic trip. Jude’s film is a refreshing non-conforming satire on contemporary gender roles, stereotypes, and conservative-based cultural expectations; one that ridicules and centers itself on the inciting incident of a leaked sex-tape. 

After its provocative opening scene of unsimulated sex, the film finally transitions into its opening chapter — a slow moving and purposefully observational portrait of a covid-ridden Romanian society. As we follow Emi on her miscellaneous errands whilst revealing details on her potential job prospects as a school teacher after her sex tape is leaked; Jude playful highlights the materialist environment through slow-moving pans and cutting. With each step she takes, the location and purpose of this melancholic chapter begins to unravel before the viewer’s eyes. The infrastructure, construction, monopolisation, and even the brief appearance of an Emoji Movie branded backpack all connect back to Jude’s point on the conformity of living within a materialist, corporate desperation-driven society. It’s a clever way to set the stage, where Jude takes the viewer on an introspective ride through Bucharest. 

Katia Pascariu in Babardeală cu bucluc sau porno balamuc | Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn by Radu Jude | ROU, LUX, HRV, CZE 2021, Competition | © Silviu Ghetie / Micro Film 2021
Katia Pascariu in Babardeală cu bucluc sau porno balamuc | Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn by Radu Jude | ROU, LUX, HRV, CZE 2021, Competition | © Silviu Ghetie / Micro Film 2021

Jude’s immaculately inventive creative vision unfortunately takes a downturn in the film’s second chapter. A cinematic dictionary riddled with innuendo, sight gags, and political mockery of key terms and cultural associations — this brief moment of unadulterated parody runs out of steam after a few minutes in. The end result is a self-indulgent recount and checklist of endless words and meanings, that fail to come together in any sort of humorous, impactful, or even memorable manner. The issue primarily with this section is with the transition to the third and final chapter — the primary interrogation scene where Emi’s school committee finally gathers for one final debate. The transition and impact of this shift feels emotionally detached from the rest of the film, and takes away some of the more clever, satirical punches of dialogue featured within the film’s final act. 

Especially when the supposed buildup is meant to enforce the escalation of the film’s final visceral cinematic farce on the misogynistic hypocrisy that plagues government networks and school systems — the dictionary sequence merely detracts from the ironic and frequently witty interplay at hand. But as for the central conversations and debate, Jude’s hysterical satirical edge on mocking conservative archetypes and nationalist pandering is frequently biting and entertaining. Combined with some trashy forced zooms, and an ending that also ends on a literal bang — Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn just narrowly saves itself from becoming a pretentious work of self-indulgent tomfoolery. With its comic-sans font taking over the film’s end credits, Jude’s latest radical feature is a welcomed effort — even with the occasional structural and ostentatious-execution of highbrow satire. 

Dir: Radu Jude

Cast: Katia Pascariu, Claudia Ieremia, Olimpia Mălai, Nicodim Ungureanu

Country: Romania / Luxembourg / Croatia / Czech Republic 

Year: 2021

Runtime: 106 minutes

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn premiered in competition at this year’s 71st Berlinale and won the Golden Bear. The film is currently seeking international distribution.

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David Cuevas

David Cuevas is a writer, reporter, and the official festivals editor (US/Canada) for FilmHounds Magazine. In his spare time, you can find him watching a bunch of movies while contemplating on his own existence.

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