Thursday, September 29, 2005
This crazy black comedy, which is set mostly in a Madrid department store, is fun without ever becoming truly hilarious. Rafael (Guillermo Toledo) is the manager of the women’s clothing department, and he’s in mortal competition with Don Antonio (Luis Varela) the manager of the menswear department, to be promoted as the Yeyo’s floor manager. Rafael loves his job. In fact, he exists for two reasons alone: to make love to as many women as he can and to sell them articles of clothing.
He runs his department as though he were the maestro of a beauty contest: all the saleswomen are chic and pert, and ever ready for an after-hours assignation in one of the dressing rooms or bedroom suites on display. But then an accidental death occurs and Rafael disposes of the body and, as a result, becomes blackmailed into marriage by the store’s homeliest employee, Lourdes (Monica Cervera).
The rest of the movie grows increasingly absurd as Rafael suffers the end of his bachelorhood and all life’s smooth sailing that had previously been his. Rafael has been such a self-smitten jerk that there’s much enjoyment to be had from witnessing his comeuppance. And Lourdes’ plans are so dark and focused that the character continues to surprise throughout.
Yet cult director Alex De la Iglesia’s attempt at “normal” comedy fare does not compare well with his earlier, more outrageous and absurd larks. El Crimen Perfecto plays like it’s Almodóvar lite, and its last act absurdities try too desperately to amuse and sadly fall flat. Still, in its lighter moments, the film draws the sort of laughs that come from its dark social situations.
A note on the title: Variously referred to as El Crimen
Ferpecto and El Crimen Perfecto, the former
maladroit title refers to a small moment in the film in which
Rafael notices that typo on a video-store label of the
Hitchcock film Dial M for Murder, which was released as
The Perfect Crime in Spain. Hitchcock and Almodóvar
this film isn’t, but it’s a worthwhile and fairly amusing
EL CRIMEN PERFECTO ( * * ½ )
Directed by Álex de la Iglesia.
Starring Guillermo Toledo, Mónica Cervera, Luis Varela, Fernando Tejero, Enrique Villen, Javier Gutiérrez, Kira Miró, Rosario Pardo
(NR, 105 mins.) At the Maya Cinemas.