Mouth to Mouth (Boca a Boca)

on September 05, 1997 by Kat Giantis
   This smart and funny thriller from Spain stars Javier Bardem ("Jamon, Jamon") as Victor Ventura, a struggling actor. In financial desperation, he takes a job at a phone sex line, even as he counts the days until what he hopes will be his big break: an audition with a Hollywood director. At first, Victor is disturbed about having to talk dirty to the men who call, but he quickly realizes that this is just another acting job and throws himself into the role.
   Although this premise may sound more than a little like Spike Lee's "Girl 6," "Mouth to Mouth" doesn't make the phone sex industry its focus. Instead, director Manuel Gomez Pereira pokes fun at the business. Another employee tells Victor that she too is an actor, and that she uses her calls as an opportunity to practice her acting exercises. "Stanislavsky," he asks her. "No, Strasberg," she replies. But Victor soon finds himself drawn into a blackmail scheme by Amanda ("A Walk in the Clouds'" Aitana Sanchez-Gijon), the beautiful wife of one of his frequent callers, a closeted gay plastic surgeon. When Amanda turns out to be an imposter, trouble and hilarity ensue. Bardem is wonderful as the naive Victor, displaying a gift for the light comic touch the role demands. The film delights in skewering Hollywood players and their idea that all Spanish actors should look like Antonio Banderas, but it also shows how enamored the Spanish actors are with America's movie capital. "Mouth to Mouth" is already a huge hit in Spain, and it should prove equally accessible to U.S. audiences. Statesiders might find the plot and gags familiar, but they'll be won over by the film's genuine humor and its willingness to not take itself too seriously. Starring Javier Bardem, Josep Maria Flotats, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon and Maria Barranco. Directed by Manuel Gomez Pereira. Written by Manuel Gomez Pereira, Joaquin Oristrell, Juan Luis Iborra and Naomi Wise. Produced by Cesar Benitez, Joaquin Oristrell and Manuel Gomez Pereira. A Miramax release. Comedy. Spanish-language; subtitled. Rated R for sexuality and language. Running time: 105 min
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