MOVIE: JAMON, JAMON
STARRING: PENELOPE CRUZ; JAVIER BARDEM; JORDI MOLLA; STEFANIA SANDRELLI
DIRECTED BY: BIGAS LUNA
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
A film like Jamon, Jamon is out there and it deserves much more praise than it has received. For those who have experienced the Bigas Luna film are truly living. They saw the movie that began the romance between Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. Other films, such as Mr. and Mrs. Smith (Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie), Brokeback Mountain (Michelle Williams & Heath Ledger) or Swing Shift (Kurt Russell & Goldie Hawn) have blossomed into romances behind the camera after the director said cut. Only this was much more than just the start of a beautiful friendship. Jamon, Jamon is a wild mixture of passionate love, soap opera style drama, and a Shakespearean tragedy. Jose (Jodi Molla) and Silvia (Penelope Cruz) are in love and when Silvia reveals that she is pregnant, Jose must finally introduce her to his mother (Stefania Sandrelli). The problem is that his mother disapproves of the relationship and in order to end it, she pays Raul (Bardem), a model, to seduce young Silvia. It turns into a triangle of love, but quickly evolves into a circle of mistrust, where everyone is finding ways to deceive their significant other. Luna's direction is sultry, as the boundaries of love are blurred, and leaving hearts in pieces. You can watch it all now available on DVD & Blu-Ray with Olive Films.
They don't make movies like Jamon, Jamon anymore. I say that because a film of this nature is dripping with sexuality and a script that frees its characters like a loose, wild dog. There is not a single restriction. Jose's family runs the wealthy underwear company, consulting the “packages” for a modeling campaign, through lineups that resemble a police investigation. Silvia's family is from the poor section, where the setting is a town that represents an abandoned fantasy land. The wealthy bunch celebrate at parties, while the underprivileged get joy out of the local bar & brothel run by Silvia's mother. Deserted land with various billboards taunt Raul, where he rides his motorcycle down a lonely road, and for Silvia, she just hopes that Jose's love is true.
This was the first and only film I have seen from Bigas Luna, but the director has a fascinating flare for the dramatic. Part of his “Iberian Trilogy” (Huevos de Oro & La Teta y la Luna were the other two films), he has a style that is easily compared to Pedro Almadovar's, but is also his own variety. There is not a lot of rhyme or reason to the animal-like instincts of his characters, it's human nature. A scene where Raul and his friend strip naked in attempts to practice bull fighting is as close Jamon, Jamon comes to caging a character. This is a film about dividing and conquering. Silvia is in love with Jose. Jose is in love with Silvia's mother. Raul is in love with Silvia, but he is being used for sex by Jose's mother. What can't be confused, is the sexual passion each character has for one another, but it is the jealousy of our characters that will drive them to madness.
I also loved the settings of Jamon, Jamon. The transfer to blu-ray by Olive Films is perfectly done, where the desert dust leaves a smoky film on the celluloid. I am reminded of films like Baz Luhrmann's sexed-up version of The Great Gatsby or a much more scandalous version of It Happened One Night. One might lose track of the various affairs between each of our characters, but as the double crossing continues, it leads to a climax that is gloriously shocking. Bigas Luna's passing only makes Jamon, Jamon a film that deserves even greater praise.
I'm extremely grateful for Olive Films to release something as daring as Jamon, Jamon. It overflows with energy and involves the type of characters that make actors want to act and audiences crave for more cinema. You should seek out a movie that is this good, plus you get to see the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Jamon, Jamon is available on DVD & Blu-Ray with Olive Films. BUY IT HERE
Written by: Leo Brady