Until recently, J.J. Bigas Luna's The Chambermaid was called The Chambermaid On The Titanic, its title clipped presumably to sidestep comparison with the wildly successful James Cameron epic. But this clever, elegantly crafted melodrama is an ideal companion piece because it's about the appeal of storytelling on a grand scale—and, more specifically, the ship itself as the ultimate outsized metaphor for doomed romance. Olivier Martinez (The Horseman On The Roof) stars as a foundry worker who wins a ticket to see the Titanic depart from Southampton. He returns from his trip boasting in elaborate detail about a passionate tryst with a chambermaid, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón (A Walk In The Clouds), which may or may not have actually happened. As Martinez's audience grows, and he adds more and more embellishments to his story, his trusting wife (Romane Bohringer) has trouble competing with his fantasies. Luna's penchant for overheated Latin sex romps like Jamón, Jamón and Huevos de Oro (Golden Balls) has earned him a reputation as a seedier, low-rent alternative to countryman Pedro Almodóvar. The Chambermaid has its share of perversions (though none on the scale of the genitalia-obsessed Jamón, Jamón), but Luna keeps his excesses in check with uncharacteristic restraint. In a movie in which the hero's imagination proves more vivid than the grim reality surrounding him, it's only fitting that its director has also discovered that a good yarn can have its own intoxications.

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