The Tit and the Moon

Dir: Bigas Luna
Star: Biel Duran, Mathilda May, Miguel Poveda, Gerard Darmon

Introductory disclaimer. Someone, located not a million miles away from this keyboard, may never have been allowed by his wife to forget a statement he once made, which might or might not have involved describing Ms. May as possessing "world-class breasts." This was probably the film responsible for triggering that comment, which documents the search of a nine-year-old kid, Tete (Duran), for a bosom he can call his own, after his new brother monopolizes his mother's chest and affection. Hope springs, in the arrival of a sideshow performer, Estrellita (May), but there are some problems. Firstly, she's married to Maurice (Darmon), the other half of her act, and secondly, there's a rival for her affections in the form of Miguel (Poveda), a lovestruck teenage boy whose Flamenco-singing skills give him an "in" with which Tete can't possibly compete.

I don't think I've seen a more breast-obsessed film since Russ Meyer was in his heyday, but Luna is more interested in the quality than sheer quantity, an approach which I do have to endorse. The results are certainly earthily European, and not just in that department: Maurice's act consists of him farting, something which Catalans apparently find uproariously funny. Mind you, another leisure pursuit depicted in the film is the creation of human towers, 40 or 50 foot high, with a kid like Tete at the top, which have an apparent tendency to come crashing down. I can only presume other entertainment options are scant. Anyway, this is an odd mix of reality and fantasy, with the lines between Tete's life and his dreams blurring. Ok, him walking on the moon is clearly not real: but the lengthy scene were Estrellita shoots an arc of milk into his mouth? Not so much, I'm guessing.

The results are somewhere between endearing and creepy, starting off towards the former end, but both Tete's and Miguel's pursuit of Estrellita now appears more stalkerish than anything, e.g. stealing her underwear, and neither will take no for an answer. That's likely another result of the super-macho culture in which this operates [the era is unclear, but I'm guessing it's the sixties, if this is as autobiographical for the director as it appears to be]. The ending is inconclusive, yet satisfying at the same time, managing to tie together the various strands in a happy ending for everyone - though may just be another one of Tete's wish-fulfillment dreams. Still, it's kinda difficult to blame entirely the two young men for their obsession, and it does just manage to avoid turning into 90 minutes of sexual harrassment, from a more modern and "enlightened" perspective. Certainly, there was no-one quite like Estrellita around when I was growing up - though from Chris's point of view, it's probably a good thing...

[November 2014]

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