An operatic triumvirate of love, hate and death provides the axis for the story of a young woman torn between duty and desire.
Arguably the last bastion of artistic snobbery, opera's transition from stage to screen has always been a daunting proposition. Nonetheless, today's climate of postmodern reinterpretation potentially gives Don Boyd's latest its most realistic chance ever of mainstream survival. Inspired by Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor (itself a hybrid of Sir Walter Scott's novel Bride Of Lammermoor), Lucia adheres steadfastly to the tragic, operatic triumvirate of love, hate and death, in its tale of Kate (Boyd), a young woman torn between duty and desire.
Although she's in love with handsome scamp Sam (Coxon), her brother (Holland) has emotionally blackmailed Kate to the brink of a financially convenient marriage to an alcoholic millionaire. Handily, all concerned are pretty nifty in the warbling department and it is agreed that they 'celebrate' the impending day with their own performance of the titular epic. As rehearsals proceed, the opera increasingly mirrors Kate's real-life situation.
Having previously produced the fragmented-but-exhilarating Aria in 1987, a project involving directors as diverse as Robert Altman, Bruce Beresford and Jean-Luc Godard, this is not director Boyd's first excursion in the genre. He has the confidence to employ an array of experimental techniques which, when they succeed (the abstract dream sequences are hauntingly effective), give the production a rich, tonal quality.
Occasional segments rapidly become reminiscent of an 80s pop video, and some decidedly dubious acting (professional singers, not actors, were cast in the lead roles) serves to detract from a film that is, otherwise, considerably more enthralling than you might have ever expected.
In trying to be too clever the film lets itself down.