c-rossreview

Imbued with darkly funny social satire, “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” is one of the best comedies of the year. While not for everyone with how blunt and confrontational it can be at times, I found the ride incredibly entertaining.

“Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” is the latest film from Romanian director Radu Jude. The story of the movie follows Emi, a school teacher whose sex tape is leaked online amidst the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Emi wanders the streets of Bucharest searching for some comfort in these trying times, only to find a world of crazies around every corner. While the story of “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” is relatively simplistic, the actual plot of the film is rather complex. The movie functions as a dark sketch comedy full of biting social satire and lowbrow sex jokes.

The comedy of this film is excellent and incredibly in your face. Jude employs careful juxtaposition between two images in the same scene many times throughout the film. One notable example of this early in the film is the camera dollying over to a stretch limousine, and then a bus driving by in the background. That’s one of the more obvious jokes, but plenty of the humor can be more thoroughly understood from a knowledge of Romanian society and history.

Romanian independent filmmaker Thomas Eremia offered context for some bits of culture and history the average American viewer would easily miss. I went into the film not aware of fascist history looming over Romania which the film comments on. For instance, I did not understand why it was a big deal to dishonor the particular high school Emi teaches at.

“The figure the high school is named after is a ‘Legionarii’ fascist, known for their antisemitism among other things,” Eremia said. 

With this context, the humor in dishonoring a school that shares its name with a horrible fascist dictator becomes obvious. Each individual element of “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” serves to reinforce this spoof of the archaic fascist aesthetic. Even the costume design has a degree of purpose which flew over my head while watching the film. 

“The outfit the main character wears throughout the film is a kind of stereotypical teacher outfit women were supposed to wear in communist Romania,” Eremia said. 

This choice in costuming further points out the anachronistic fascist vestiges to an absurd degree.

The level of detail packed into every aspect of “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” is absolutely astounding, from the directing and choreographing of scenes to the costume design. The performance of Emi by actress Katia Pascariu is phenomenal; her gaze alone conveys so much frustration and discomfort throughout the film. This is made even more impressive because for most of the runtime she wears a face mask.

Ironically enough, the fact that this film is set during the COVID-19 pandemic is quite refreshing. Too many films as of late have been period pieces or set in some bizarre alternate reality where the ongoing worldwide pandemic is never addressed. Scenes as simple as someone pulling down their mask to yell at a grocery store employee or short spats in a pharmacy about the effectiveness of masks or vaccines feel brutally real. The pandemic itself ends up adding an extra layer of depth to the film’s social satire in a way that makes “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” feel like one of the definitive pieces of film documentation of the present day.

If there was one thing that was a consistent distraction during the film, it was the cinematography feeling too digital. During some panning shots towards the beginning of the film, it looked like motion blur was added during post-production. Some of the zooms towards the end of the film looked like they were done in the editing bay rather than in-camera. While these are ultimately very minor technical hiccups, they end up being distracting because it would not take a whole lot of effort to fix them.

That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” and it easily lands among the best films to be released in 2021, getting an 8/10 from me. While it has a rather challenging structure and will not be for everyone, if you are willing to be patient with it, you will find a rewarding and hilarious movie. I beg of you though, if the Romanian history and culture aspect of this film intimidates you, do not let that deter you from seeking out this film, because there will still be plenty of relevant and funny social commentary for you to latch onto. 

culture@dailynebraskan.com