Ages of Lulu, The (1990): Bigas Luna’s Scandalous Sexual Film

(Las edades de Lulú)

Bigas Luna’s “scandalous” film, The Ages of Lulu, concerns the sexual awakening of a young woman whose curiosity leads her to involvement in dangerous sexual experimentation.

Adapted to the screen from Almudena Grandes’s best-selling novel of the same name, it stars Francesca Neri, dubbed into Spanish by a local actress.

Ángela Molina, who was originally cast in the lead role, withdrew upon learning of the film’s explicit sex scenes. In one of his first roles on screen, the young Javier Bardem plays a small role of a corrupt gay man. María Barranco won the Goya (the Spanish Oscar) Award as Best Supporting Actress for playing a transsexual prostitute.

At age 15, Lulú is seduced by Pablo, the best friend of her brother Marcelo, who then leaves to work in the U.S. Lulú hopes that Pablo will come back, and when he does, they get married.  Pablo and Lulú’s passionate relationship is defined by risky sexual games. On one nocturnal expedition, they meet the prostitute called Ely, who becomes their friend.

Despite being parents to daughter, Ines, they continue to play dangerous games. Pablo convinces Lulú to participate blindfolded in a threesome; when Lulú discovers that the third person was her brother Marcello, she leaves Pablo with Inez. However, she continues to desire playing increasingly dangerous sex games. Having been aroused by watching a gay porn movie, she seeks out gay men and pays them to join in orgies, or watch them having sex.

Unable to pay enough to satisfy her desires, she meets a pimp, Remy, who runs an underground  S&M club. Ely tries to warn Lulú that Remy is dangerous, but Lulú ignores her.  At the club, Lulú is tied up by Jimmy, a gay man she had sex with, forced to endure violent sex while gagged and bound. When Ely goes to the club to rescue her, she is attacked by Jimmy and gets killed when hitting a metal bar.  The police arrest Jimmy, and Lulú and Pablo are reunited.

This bold movie was cut in several countries, including the U.K.  An S&M orgy at a gay club and other acts were cut, but these scenes were restored in the 2002 DVD release. An opening scene in which Lulu is baptized as a baby was also because it exposed the child’s genitalia.

Cast

Francesca Neri as Lulú

Óscar Ladoire as Pablo

María Barranco as Ely

Javier Bardem as Jimmy

Fernando Guillén Cuervo as Marcelo

Rosana Pastor as Chelo

Juan Graell as Remy

Rodrigo Valverde as Pablito

Pilar Bardem as Encarna

Marta May as Lulú’s mother

Gloria Rodriquez as Cristina

Ángel Jovè as Alicantino

Ainara Pérez as child Lulú

Juan Sala as Lulú’s father

Pepa Serrano as Flamenca