[email protected]: Of sex, lies and videotape

Romanian filmmaker Radu Jude’s Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn is a hard-to-classify, thought-provoking film which opens up space for conversation around so-called taboo subjects.

Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn ‘Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn’. What kind of a bananas movie title is that? One that fits the film by Romanian filmmaker Radu Jude, part darkly funny satire on a world rapidly losing its capacity for tolerance, part postmodern morality tale dripping with subversion.

A school teacher’s sex tape with her husband, leaked on a porn site, creates a furore amongst parents and administrators. It will not just impact the delicate morals of not just the young students; it has also apparently, given by the level of outrage, already derailed the moral compass of the adults who have gathered to pass judgement on her.

There’s nothing indecent about a woman making love with her husband, claims Emi. What she does in the privacy of her bedroom is private; in the public sphere, which includes her classroom duties and conduct, she is beyond reproach. Jude takes this statement and runs with it, and creates a hard-to-classify, thought-provoking film which opens up space for conversation around so-called taboo subjects. Curdled ideas on pornography, privacy, morality roil up from within the innards of the city that she takes a long, long walk in, in the first part of the film. As she walks, we see the city unveiling itself, its buildings, shops, pavements, pedestrians, cars parked on the side of the roads, rude drivers, all creating a radiating mosaic of consumerism, capitalism and individualism.

In a virtual press conference, the first at this year’s Berlinale, Jude spoke about how he sees his film as a comment on obscenity and hypocrisy in Romanian society. ‘The city is us’, he said. As a teenager growing up in the 80s, there were barely any adult magazines available for public consumption. It was only after the country’s liberation, post Ceausescu’s crippling era of dictatorship, that sexual freedom, together with freedoms of other kinds, started filtering through.

All politics is about control, said Katia Pascariu, who plays the schoolteacher, and who was also part of the press meet. Those who control sexuality control us, and there’s nothing scarier than females pleasuring themselves. It is a sharp, pertinent comment, and as she points out, not just pertinent to Romania. It is as depressingly familiar to those of us who live in societies where repression is the operative mode of functioning.

‘Loony Porn’ references the pandemic by making its interlocutors wear masks. Do they muzzle free thought along with polluted air? The film makes us laugh out loud and wince at the same time, and two days in, it is already one of my top films of this year’s edition.

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