Jamón, Jamón

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After his girlfriend Sylvia falls pregnant, Jose Luis, executive at his parents’ underwear factory, promises to marry her. However, as she is merely a lower class shop floor worker, his mother hires would-be underwear model and would-be bullfighter Raul t


If Pedro Almodovar is the satirical genius of Spanish cinema, Bigas Luna is his bawdier, sillier cousin. His films, dotty, sexy melodramas dominated by the prowess of Latin manhood, what would have happened if the Carry On movies had just gone on with the process of shagging, are silly, guilty pleasures whose European credentials can hide a multitude of titillating fun. They are camp, sexually liberated fables almost designed to show how staid we Brits are, and this one is easily his best.

The title translates as Ham Ham, so you can see where Bigas is coming from so-to-speak. As in the parallels between vast hides of smoked pork, and the carnal offerings of Raul the lug (played with masterful emptiness by Javier Bardem. This is after all a town that proudly manufactures underwear and cures hams. Raul is merely a pawn in the farcical games of Conchita , mother of company princeling Jose (the pretty-pretty Molla), who is betrothed to Silvia , which really irks mean mama because she is the daughter of the town whore. With us? Actually, there’s no need to worry, it’s just an excuse for a bubble of sex and manners, proudly bawdy and energetic. Luna is the kind of director who shoots touching love scenes beneath the wavering testicles of a giant bull billboard. Everybody seems to jump into the sack with everyone else. It’s that kind of town.

Sardonic and visually alive, Luna is all recklessness but with subtle purpose. Amongst his sprawl of vibrating buttocks and slabs of wobbly ham, he is puncturing the repressive devices of class. Stripped to our underwear everyone is driven by the same impulses.

All the giddy glories of Spain are evident in every frame of this racy and surreal farce