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The Lure is a frequently bizarre, occasionally nasty escapade that only uses the mythical creature as a means of eviscerating misogyny and chauvinism

Palka Robert/Courtesy of Janus Films

3 out of 4 stars

Title
The Lure
Written by
Robert Bolesto
Directed by
Agnieszka Smoczynska
Starring
Marta Mazurek, Michalina Olszanska, and Andrzej Konopka

For one reason or another, Hollywood has caught a serious case of mermaid fever. In addition to Chris Bouchard and Blake Harris's upcoming live-action rendition of The Little Mermaid, set for release this year and starring Shirley MacLaine (although not, sadly, as the title character), Disney is planning a Lin-Manuel Miranda revamp of its animated musical and Universal was also mulling a Sofia Coppola version, once upon a time.

Do not, however, mistake Polish director Agnieszka Smoczynska's The Lure as part of this Ariel-centric trend. Her new film involves mermaids, sure, but it's a frequently bizarre, occasionally nasty escapade that only uses the mythical creature as a means of eviscerating misogyny and chauvinism.

Here, that means a story in which comely mermaid sisters Srebrna (Marta Mazurek) and Zlota (Michalina Olszanska) become an improbable Warsaw cabaret sensation, when not battling their insatiable bloodlust (they have to eat hearts to stay alive, you see). The result is hallucinatory and puzzling, but never anything less than captivating. Just don't expect an ear-wormy Under the Sea cover.

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