Jamón, jamón (1992) is not a great movie, and it has many sophomoric soft-porn elements. Nevertheless, I enjoyed and appreciated several aspects of this Spanish film by Bigas Luna, especially its structure and overt symbolism. I am going to comment only about those aspects I did like.
The film is book-marked by opening and closing scenes of a sheepherder and flock passing by a lake in a desert mountainous region, as if to imply: And this is the way it has always been and this is the way it will always be. The film that is sandwiched in between provides a rather bleak (albeit very funny) view of the nature of human sexual relationships.
The structure of the movie revolves around 6 main characters.
· Silvia, a teenage girl who lives with her mother and younger siblings, and has been abandoned by her father.
· Silvia’s mother, Carmen, who works as a prostitute at the local brothel to support herself and her children.
· Raúl, a young machismo who makes a living delivering hams.
· Manual, the rich owner of a factory in the town that makes men’s underwear.
· Manual’s wife, Conchita.
· Jose, the rich young son of Manual and Conchita, and boyfriend of Silvia.
Silvia expresses early on in the film that she is in love with and wants to marry Jose, and later in the film that she is in love with and wants to marry Raúl, but many scenes and dialogue make it crystal clear that what she REALLY wants is someone who can give her a closet full of lots of shoes.
Carmen expresses that she has never been in love with any man, including Silvia’s father, and that what she wants is that her daughter “not have to go through what I did”.
Raúl falls “in love” with Silvia at one point in the movie, but what he REALLY wants is “a Mercedes”.
Manual states that “all women are whores”, and he once enjoyed seeing the prostitute Carmen (perhaps still does -- We know for sure that the son currently does!). Manual now apparently also “admires” the daughter Silvia, confiding to his son who is dating Silvia: “[She] is wonderful – don’t let her get away.”
Conchita, has a closet full of shoes and wants to protect her son from young poor women like Silvia who might be after his money. However, what she REALY wants, at a deep psychosexual level of motivation, is to “throw her pearls before swine”, particularly young machismo swine like Raúl.
Jose wants to “knock the balls off” Raúl after he becomes Silvia’s lover.
In nice filmatic symmetry, all 6 characters end up getting what they want.
I gave this movie a rating of 3 stars