Film Review: Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn is blackly comic and insultingly confronting

Come for the porn.  Stay for the social commentary.

A film that very much opts to take no prisoners during its confronting opening minutes of unsimulated sexual activity, Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn is at once an enraging drama and a wicked comedy that consistently goes against the grain of what we feel like we should expect.

The aforementioned opening sequence – a particularly graphic tryst between two consenting adults that immediately solidifies the film’s R18+ classification – is essentially what the whole narrative bases itself around, but it isn’t defied by it either.  The irony that it’s the woman involved in the tape that earns the scolding and not the man who uploaded it is not lost on writer/director Radu Jude, who centres the film around said woman, Romanian school teacher Emi (Katia Pascariu), as she prepares for a day of damage control.

Emi has essentially been put on trial by the school staff and fellow parents, collectively believing she has done something wrong by daring to express her sexuality in such a manner.  A moment that was supposed to be private, one she did not consent to being publicly released, is set to determine her professional fate, and between that opening sequence and a brave finale that addresses various outcomes and mind-frames from all involved, Radu’s film takes a methodical approach in following Emi, in almost real time, as she plans her attack.

Though this decision keeps the film from ever slipping into the expected, there’s a certain self-indulgence on hand that threatens to turn off any audience members who more than paid attention during the pornographic opening by lingering a little too long on local architecture or advertising that accompanies Emi on her walks throughout the city.  There’s a certain tension present to these mundane sequences, and the fact that it’s very obviously shot during the pandemic adds an extra layer of relevance.  Her day and the decision to follow her makes sense in the grand scheme of things, but it does tinker with derailing a film working with an investing premise.

Almost as if she’s shame walking through the city, which is ludicrous given she has nothing to be ashamed of, the climax (pardon the pun) of Bad Luck Banging… is where its at its strongest, its most emotional, and its most daring.  Speaking to how hard it truly is to wipe something from the internet, Emi’s “trial” is a degrading experience that leans into a certain unearned entitlement that privileged parents believe they hold over anyone else who dare not to conform to their ideas of safe living.  It understandably only makes Emi more hostile and exhausted, and, embracing the lunacy suggested in its title, it culminates in a sequence so wild and yet so cathartic that you almost wish it was a film in its own right.

Not for the faint of heart, nor for those thinking a film based around a sex tape will indulge in crude humour, Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn is blackly comic, insultingly confronting, and refreshingly honest.

THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn is screening in Australian theatres from November 25th, 2021.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.

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