JAMON JAMON has the delirious lusty excess of Douglas Sirk's CinemaScopic imaginings or King Vidor's luridly Freudian male-menopausal period of DUEL IN THE SUN, THE FOUNTAINHEAD, BEYOND THE FOREST and RUBY GENTRY. Director/writer Bigas Luna has assembled a savory paella, incorporating a
lot of disparate and obviously highly personal elements--the eponymous hams, the talismanic effects of garlic, a parrot named Guaca, bullfights, a string of pearls, a closetful of shoes, class struggle, advertising, the unreasoning pull of sex, potato omelettes--and tying them all up with tortuous
finesse. It all seems to fall determinedly and rather self-consciously under the heading of Pure Cinema, but is highly entertaining, like a grittier version of Pedro Almodovar's wilder early conceits.
Two formidable women, Carmen (Anna Galiena) and Conchita (Stephania Sandrelli) battle over the destinies of their children Silvia (Penelope Cruz) and Jose Luis (Jordi Molla), who are young and in love. Conchita, the ambitious doyenne of an underwear manufacturing company, enlists the aid of
hunky Raul (Javier Bardem) to seduce the low-born Silvia away from her precious son. Raul's charms work on the girl, as well as his employer, and soon Conchita is seething with desire and jealousy. Jose Luis is distraught, unable to find solace in the arms of Carmen, with whom he has enjoyed more
than the usual affection of your typical girlfriend's Mom. A terrific duel ensues between the lads, with hugely lethal hambones their weapon of choice. The outcome is tragic and the film ends on a delirious La Pieta tableau of the mothers over the boys' bloodied bodies, while Silvia is consoled by
Jose Luis' father (Juan Diego), who has managed to get his licks in as well.
The synopsis may strike you as worthy of the most excessive verismo opera and, indeed, Luna lays on the outre effects. JAMON JAMON is one wild ride, with its scenes of Carmen vamping Jose Luis while luridly imitating an obstreperous pet parrot, a baby pig named Pablito being totalled by an
out-of-control motorcycle, Conchita auditioning the bulging crotches of male models for an ad campaign, and a midnight nude bullfight that is the headiest such scene since Alan Bates and Oliver Reed wrestled nude in WOMEN IN LOVE. Jose Luis Alcaine's camera burrows suggestively into places it
oughtn't go and distills the arid, lonely, beat-out highway atmosphere of Spain's Monegros, the desultoriness of which is enough to inspire the characters to heights of insanity and horniness. Nicola Piovani's over-the-top music adds to the delicious madness of such ad-savvy interludes as a
jealously enraged Jose Luis battering the cojones off of a huge promotional billboard silhouette of a bull, or Silvia weeping as she bereftly stares up at Raul's crotch immortalized on a roadside underwear ad.
As Conchita, Sandrelli has a full comic authority and a matured sensuality; Conchita is a true monster of acquisitiveness, yet the actress imbues her with nuances that recall Colette's sublime older-woman literary portraits. (Her "Grab me by the pearls!", addressed to Raul, may be a seminal
movie line.) Galiena, who gives a definitely sexy been-there-done-that Joan Blondell performance, and Cruz, with her Mariah Carey/Amy Fisher nubility, are a perfect match as mother and daughter. Bardem has the jeans-busting handsomeness of the young Anthony Quinn, laudably ready for any and all
curves his director might throw him. (Nudity, adult situations, sexual situations, profanity, violence, substance abuse.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1992
- Rating: NR
- Review: JAMON JAMON has the delirious lusty excess of Douglas Sirk's CinemaScopic imaginings or King Vidor's luridly Freudian male-menopausal period of DUEL IN THE SUN, THE FOUNTAINHEAD, BEYOND THE FOREST and RUBY GENTRY. Director/writer Bigas Luna has assembled a… (more)