ADIFF Review – The Lure

Sister mermaids Golden (Michalina Olszańska) and Silver (Marta Mazurek) find their way to land and it is not long before they are employed in a strip club, showing off the fact that their legs become tails when exposed to water. When Silver falls for Mietek (Jakub Gierszal) the mermaids’ life becomes more complicated, as Mietek doesn’t want to be with a mermaid, and Golden reminds her sister that if she gives her heart to a man and he falls for another, she will be turned into sea foam. Oh, and the sisters eat humans… And there is a lot of singing.

The easiest way to describe The Lure is as a version of ‘The Little Mermaid’, set in 1980s Poland, with disco music set pieces, murder and romance. Still with me? Good. There is a lot to love about the wonderfully and wilfully bonkers debut from director Agnieszka Smoczynska, not least the music.

Michalina Olszańska and Marta Mazurek play the cannibalistic mermaids with aplomb. Both actresses seem to relish the versatility of their roles, swinging from charming and innocent to bloodthirsty and violent in a moment, and without such strong central performances, the film would not work. This is Ron Howard’s Splash with murderous mermaids, and the two lead actresses work well with one another, and in creating characters that are sexual, violent and mysterious. The rest of the cast features Kinga Preis, Andrzej Konopka, Jakub Gierszal and Zygmunt Malanowicz.

The story of the film is obviously inspired by the tale of The Little Mermaid – not the Disney version, but the far darker original story by Hans Christian Anderson – and as such, Robert Bolesto’s screenplay deals with lust, love, infatuation, removal of a mermaid’s tail and the threat of being turned into sea foam if love is not requited. Of course, Bolesto adds in the more predatory idea that the mermaids eat humans; and disco music. The screenplay is full of smart dialogue and although there are holes in the story as a whole, the entire film is so bonkers and madcap that this almost doesn’t matter.

As director, Agnieszka Smoczynska plays up the sexuality of the mermaids – as well as their being anatomically unequipped to do anything about their desire – and the odd and over the top idea that this gore fest is actually a musical. The singing set pieces are well performed, and provide a strong contrast to the darker and more violent side of the story. The two sides are well combined however, to make an affecting, moving and engaging whole.

In all, The Lure is a glittery, bloodsoaked version of The Little Mermaid with songs… In Polish. The entire affair is bonkers and over the top, while remaining engaging, moving and very gory. The Lure is a wild and manic treat, just don’t think too much about the plot holes.

Rating: 4/5

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