Mouth to Mouth (1995)

“There are a lot of repressed men–all with phones.”

In the Spanish comedy, Mouth to Mouth Victor Ventura has dreamed of becoming an actor since boyhood. As a pizza delivery driver in Madrid, he waits for his big break, but after a run of bad luck, he turns to ‘Hot Line’ –a telephone–I’ll euphemistically call it–entertainment operation run by a mother and son team. After telling himself that “rich guys get turned on by labourers”, Victor uses Robert De Niro for inspiration and soon becomes a natural in the world of adult telephone entertainment.

Victor (known as Salvador at the Hot Line) picks up a regular male customer known as Bill. Victor also breaks the rules and becomes rather intimately involved with another caller who calls herself Amanda. Suddenly Victor finds himself up to his neck in intrigue–there’s a femme fatale, a murder plot, and a multi-million dollar film.

Javier Bardem stars as Victor, and this role was created before Bardem became a recognizable name in Hollywood. Actually, I prefer Mouth to Mouth to any other film Bardem has made. He’s got great comedic talent, and his facial features naturally lend themselves to being cast as the innocent, guileless fall guy. Several times during Mouth to Mouth, Victor auditions for roles and comes off very credibly as the nervous wannabe performing an atrocious Broadway number, the foul-mouthed tough guy, and the great Latin Lover. He switches between characters and makes it look easy. When Victor takes his first phone call at the Hot Line he calls on all his acting talent to help him ‘save’ the call, and the scene is really well done. The culture of the Hot Line office is particularly amusing, and some of the calls are hilarious.

Mouth to Mouth almost has the feel of an Almodovar film–but this is mainly due to pacing and the character of Victor’s agent, the semi-hysterical and babbling Angela. However, Mouth to Mouth is essentially a comedy and verves firmly away from the darker philosophical issues that Almodovar often wrestles with. Mouth to Mouth is a great foreign comedy, and I think most people could easily relate to its universal humour. Directed by Manuel Gomez Pereira.

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Filed under Comedy, Javier Bardem, Spain

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