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Jamon, Jamon

Bigas Luna

On the surface, the films of Bigas Luna are funny, sultry, sexy and often celebratory of Spanish machismo. But beneath that glistening surface there are serious undertones, as Luna mixes satire with sex and relishes poking fun at his heroes. He achieved his biggest success with Jamon, Jamon, a surrealcombination of humour, sex and drama. The frenetic narrative is set in motion by the discovery that village girl Silvia( Penelope Cruz) is pregnant. Trying to do the decent thing, her boyfriend Jose proposes marriage, much to the horror of his mother, Conchita (Stafania Sandrelli), who considers Silvia unsuitable because her mother runs the local brothel. Conchita recruits Raul, a young would-be bullfighter, to seduce Silvia, but the plan backfires and leads to further complications. Luna directs with liberated abandon, filling the film with unpredictable scenes ( a nude bullfight staged at night) and stiking images ( a stray dog skidding pitifully in a giant paella dish) to provide a surreal counterpoint to the sharply focused performances. The gloriously absurd climax involves a duel to death in which the deadly weapon is a side of ham.

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