Ham on Rye

Ham on Rye ★★★★

What defines Ham on Rye—overwhelming all the foreshadowing and other narrative suggestions littered throughout its first half—are its faces (even the youngest ones seem tired and weathered, like kids in films made before our time), its sense of humor (which comes out via strange turns in dialogue and even stranger turns in performance, like a small boy’s mechanical golf-clap or a mom’s oversized chomps at lunch), and its numerous motifs, which include picture frames and oblique references to swine. Like for instance, one boy carries around this strange pig toy (which of course aligns with the film’s title as well as with another scene where someone refers to “porking [as] the ultimate purpose”) that eventually lands in the hands of an older character, who discards it with some disgust. More curious about the origin of the prop than about its meaning, I asked Taormina where the small plaything came from.

“Detail fetishism…,” he begins, before starting a new thought. “I just thought, I knew the actor, the kid we’d hired for that role, and I knew I wanted to have an object kind of move from the kid’s space to the [adult’s] space, and I also very pointedly wanted it to be handled very differently by these two people… I don’t know. I just wanted to make these dots between them, and there’s no real reason for it. I mean, pig, pork, ham—that’s all a thing isn’t it? But I am really interested in seeing how these objects flow from person to person, and then get cast out into space.”

Excerpt from a report on the film at DigBoston, including comments from director Tyler Taormina, producer David Croley Broyles, and cinematographer Carson Lund.

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