The French title (as per our poster) gets this just right. Bigas Luna’s follow up to the better-known JAMON JAMON/’92 is a sort of Spanish RAKE’S PROGRESS, a morality fable from the ‘boom’ years, with the young Javier Bardem (24 at the time) charting a fast-rise/fast-fall path after losing a youthful love to his best pal.* After this disappointment, Bardem cons & screws his way to the top with a skyscraper project, pimping his girl to snare an investor or marrying a near stranger for a co-signed loan. But when the facade crumbles, purgatory may turn up as a Miami ranch house, where the coffee is weak & the gardener (Benicio Del Toro) has bedroom eyes. As helmer, Luna shows a smooth technique and keeps the pace up, hardly slowing down for all the sex & orgasms; if only he didn’t push his cast to tear the screen to tatters. The men seem out to win the Anthony Quinn Indicative Acting Honorarium, and the gorgeous women have to accept degradations only a male writer could believe in. The film stuffs us with a whole Menú del día when a small tapas or two would have sufficed.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *That handsome pal is Alessandro Gassman, son of Vittorio Gassman which means that Shelley Winters was his step-mom. Yikes!