Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ham, Ham

Jamón, jamón; Erotic drama, Spain, 1992; D: Bigas Luna, S: Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Jordi Mollà, Anna Galiena, Stefania Sandrelli, Juan Diego

Silvia is an ordinary worker in a underwear factory and has a relationship with Jose, the son of her boss. Her mother Carmen is owner of a brothel and herself already had intercourse with Jose. When Silvia becomes pregnant, Jose decides to marry her, which angers his mother Conchita who thinks Silvia just wants his money. Thus, Conchita hires a young lad, Raul, who is suppose to seduce Silvia. At first, Raul secretly banishes a pig only to later "help" to catch it. He then seduces Silvia in a disco and on the street but she rejects him. Only when he gets injured after falling from a motorcycle does he succeed: she falls for him. But Conchita also falls for him. The jealous Jose attacks Raul with a ham leg, but he kills him. Everyone is unhappy.

Those who think that European movies are boring, that they are just made for some stiff audience from another dimension, should watch erotic grotesque "Ham, Ham": such open erotic provocations and spontaneous passion would have probably never made it into a mainstream Hollywood film back in that time. In the opening, the camera makes a close up of Raul's underpants that have a "lump" from an erection; Jose licks Silvia's breasts and says how they taste like ham; and when he makes out with her, they sit under a giant wooden poster of a bull whose testicles are swayed by the wind. Even later on does Jose have intercourse with Silvia's mother while a parrot observes them, whereas Raul is also a shrill character since he provokes a bull naked, holding only a red flag. Director Bigas Luna is obviously a very passionate person who doesn't hesitate to openly portray the intimacy of his characters and celebrate the youthful spirit, yet here he didn't go directly into pornography: all characters also have an emotional constitution and their realistic problems, which is why the story gains a dramaturgic charge. Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem are both fantastic in their parts, while it's a pity that the unsure direction resulted in a hysterical end which is a fiasco and reduces it's quality.


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