Bigas Luna critiques Spanish machismo in “Huevos de Oro” [1993 Spain]

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Whether or not we like the early works of Catalan director Bigas Luna, one thing we have to give him credit for is his determination to never pussy-foot around what he’s trying to say. There is no polite-talk, no ‘birds and bees’ euphemisms – he just drives home the message in a no uncertain manner, even crudely if necessary. His 1993 drama “Huevos de Oro” [Eng. Title: Golden Balls] may not be as testosterone-laden as his earlier film, Jamón Jamón, but is nevertheless all to do with ‘balls’!

Storyline:
Benito González is our man with the ‘golden balls’ – he’s a hilariously drawn caricature of your everyday Spanish stud. He dreams of becoming a property tycoon, building a high-rise tower with swimming pools and topless bars, owning gold Rolex watches, and trophy women ideally weighing less than 47KG (apparently because of the way he ‘moves’). To complete the picture, dear Benito also loves to sing along to cheesy tunes. I could’t help thinking I’ve seen at least a handful like him in my local pub on Friday nights – okay they might not particularly pick a Julio Iglesias song, a Tom Jones perhaps. After army service, he returns to mainland Spain to get working on his dream. He befriends a banker and marries his lovely and cultured daughter Marta (45 KG) to get his ‘González Tower’ started, whilst retaining girlfriend Claudita (52 KG) whom he occasionally uses to close deals with clients and partners. Marta soon catches whiff of Benito’s ongoing affair with Claudia and even ends up striking an unlikely friendship with her. The three of them live happily together until tragedy strikes and his fortunes are turned to the worse in the most spectacular fashion. Dumped by his wife, Benito will soon find himself in Miami, forced to share the waitress he brought along – Ana (don’t ask a woman her weight), with his gardener. Talk about a full circle..!

I simply can’t see Luna pulling this off without the astonishing talents of Javier Bardem who plays Benito – Bardem surely must share a fair chunk of the credit for Benito’s characterisation. The film is intentionally over-the-top, and meant to talk to people quite unlike Benito, which I’m sure it does splendidly – right from the choice of locations (Melilla in the Spanish territory of Africa, Benidorm in Spain, and Miami in the US of A), to the language used, and not least the focus on the construction industry (the bubble that has come to haunt Spain today), Luna has crossed all the t’s and dotted the i’s with panache. This may not be a cerebral film, but he has admirably pulled no punches in critiquing Spanish machismo, and for that reason, it is Recommended Viewing..!

 

Bigas Luna is a frustratingly enigmatic director due to his persistent inconsistency. Just as he can be sublime, imaginative, and unforgiving, he can also be found wanting. In these two scene snippets however, he has hit the mark remarkably well – the first is addressed directly to the audience about a possible mismatch between the couple, and the second visualises a surreal dream of Benito – who by the way has a fixation with Dali.

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Amazon.com DVD Link
My recommended DVD from the transfers currently available

 

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