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Golden Balls

Golden Balls
Benito González is a flamboyant engineer in Melilla, with a brash and pushy personality. His dream is to build the tallest building ever in the region. After his girlfriend leaves him, he devotes himself entirely to his ambitions, deciding to let nothing get in his way. He marries the daughter of a billionaire, intending to use her father's money to realise his project. Benito waltzes his way through a career of excess, fetishes and deceptions, but the personal conflicts he unleashes ultimately send his life spiraling down to disaster.


Bigas Luna's 1993 film Huevos de oro ("Golden Balls/Eggs", a title punning on both the goose that laid the golden eggs and a tough guy's balls of steel) depicts the rise and fall of Benito Gonzalez (Javier Bardem), a young Spanish construction worker who becomes an affluent real estate developer on the Mediterranean coast. After being jilted by his first girlfriend (Elisa Tovati), who leaves him for his best friend, Benito develops a mania for building the tallest building in Benidorm, which may be seen as little more than an enormous phallic symbol flaunting his manhood. Obsessed with this big construction project, his lust for his next woman, Claudia (Maribel Verdú) takes second place to having her sleep with potential investors to win them over. Benito then marries a banker's daughter, Marta (Maria de Medeiros) to have access to her father's funds. Benito lives a life of sexual excess and enormous consumption of food, especially the Alicante sweet known as torrón. Like some of the work of Almodovar, Bigas Luna clearly likes riffing on Spanish stereotypes and regional differences. Ultimately, however, Benito's hubris leads to his downfall. This protagonist is certainly an odious guy, but -- though I won't spoil the ending -- the depths to which he is ultimately sunk inspire a perverse sympathy in the viewer. Years went by between my first viewing of this film and the second, but in the interim I would often look back on this film's plot and ending scenes, thinking of how sad it was to lose everything and end up that way. Huevos de oro isn't an especially deep film, but that dramatic arc, hewing very close to classical notions of tragedy, is impressive and I'd say this film is worth a watch.

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