Glasgow Review - Lulu
Glasgow’s exciting annual celebration of short film has come a long way since 2008. Once just a weekend component in the Glasgow Film Festival’s wider programme, this year finally sees GSFF detach from its mother festival and begin to go it alone into filmic space. And thankfully they’ve shifted to the marginally warmer month of March too. So this very transitory first step interestingly fell to something betwixt the two festivals: the medium-length Lulu (Dir. Caroline Sascha Cogez, Denmark, 2014).
Before the credits even finish, we have a familiar heavy breathing sound-effect thrust at us. Then we see the titular Lulu (Malin Crépin) passionately thrusting her breasts at Henrik. In fact, in a series of clever slow reveals we eventually find out that what we’re actually seeing is a bit of good-old-fashioned car-park sex. And soon it turns out that these are two frenzied people wrapped up in a secret affair, as Henrik is one of those married-for-life, but always dabbling kinds of husband.
Then in what can only be described as “affair logic,” the two of them elope to one of those astoundingly beautiful villas some people seem to have lying around in the Rhône-Alpes. Except this transition to France makes complete sense, because this Danish film is staggeringly influenced by French culture right from the start. Crépin also looks every part a French model, especially given her a French model-sounding name (both on and off screen). And once in France’s opulent settings, the duo feast on asparagus (evidently the aphrodisiac of choice for lovers in France), and struggle to keep their hands off each other even long enough to brush their teeth.
That is until Henrik’s son David arrives… like an updated “talented Mr. Ripley” (an adjective which is indeed repeatedly applied to the youth). At this stage, experienced short-filmmaker Cogez turns Lulu into one of the great pieces of awkward third-wheel fiction. For some thirty minutes Lulu becomes a delight of on-screen chemistries, and as a viewer almost nothing other than this short’s rampant world comes to matter.
Especially when, in an extremely Freudian manner, the characters begin to enter into a three-way joust for each other’s affections. David (Andreas Holm Dittmer) and Lulu even begin adopting the each other’s personalities, and thus the short very much ties into French cinema’s obsession with exploring gender (and the acceptance of new forms of gender). As such Lulu is quite a deep piece about finding love and acceptance, but it is also refreshingly scintillating thanks to the on-screen tensions. And Lulu truly revels in Crépin and Dittmer’s (often quite androgynous) bodily splendour throughout, making this almost aristocratic romp quite a pleasure to watch too.
One suspects a feature will surely follow; but if it does, let us hope it lives up to the brilliance and indulgent naughtiness of this short.
Original Title: Lulu
Director: Caroline Sascha Cogez
Run Time: 46 mins
Contact: Danish Film Institute, firstname.lastname@example.org
12 March 2015, by Thomas Humphrey