EL CRIMEN FERPECTO (THE PERFECT CRIME) (2005)
Starring Guillermo Toledo, Mónica Cervera, Luis Varela, Fernando Tejero, Kira Miró, Enrique Villén, Alicia Andújar, Eduardo Gómez, Javier Gutiérez, Montse Mostaza, Gracia Olayo, Isabel Osca, Rosario Pardo, Manuel Tallafé, Penélope Velasco, Juan Viadas, Gerard Casau, Hilario Pino, Óscar Sueiro and Javier J. Valencia.
Screenplay by Jorge Guerricaechevarría and Alex de Iglesia.
Directed by Alex de Iglesia.
Distributed by Vitagraph Films. 105 minutes. Not Rated.
Rafael Gonzales (Guillermo Toledo) has the perfect life. He is handsome. He is smart. He is a born salesman.
Rafael works as the head of the women’s department of a huge department store in Madrid called Yeya’s. It is fate that he works there – he had been born in that very same store when his mother went into early labor many years before. Rafael gets his clothing and all of his other needs there (usually not paying for them.) He has a whole gaggle of beautiful salesgirls that he juggles as after-hours conquests – all of whom smother him with sex, strings-free companionship and baked goods while they catfight amongst themselves about who he really likes most. The male salespeople idolize him. Rafael has an easy job that he is good at, no real responsibilities and ties and a tiny kingdom over which he rules with charm and good nature.
The perfect life starts to crumble when the store decides to pit Rafael against Don Antonio, the head of the men’s department, for the job of store manager. Rafael and Don Antonio hate each other – Don Antonio is the opposite of Rafael, a dedicated company man who has not needs or urges or probably even life outside of the job. It is decreed that whoever sells more in a week will get the position. When a bounced check leads to Don Antonio getting the job, he gleefully fires Rafael. This leads to a fight in which Rafael accidentally kills his new boss.
Then it turns out that a worker named Lourdes (Mónica Cervera) witnessed the death. Guillermo had never really noticed Lourdes before, frankly because she was ugly. However, Lourdes had noticed Guillermo, she had been paying a disturbing amount of attention to his life and loves all the while hoping and waiting for her turn. With the killing of Don Antonio, the tables have finally turned in her favor. She cheerfully helps him dispose of the body (in the store’s incinerator) and agrees to be his co-conspirator, all the while letting him know in no uncertain terms that there was a price for her silence. They would be lovers and she increasingly exerts more and more pressure for him to be the man that she wants him to be.
At first Rafael is able to keep it on the down low, they make love at night and barely acknowledge each other by day. However, Lourdes continuously imposes her will on him; making him take her to places where they will be caught by others, forcing him to fire all his salesgirls and replace them with plain ones.
She takes him to meet her family. Lourdes has a passive-aggressively friendly and helpful mother. She has a rebellious eleven-year-old sister who is so angry that she makes it her entire raison d’etre to shock her numb family with stories of pregnancy and AIDS. Her cuckolded father is so smothered by the women in his life that he sleeps through every family gathering because they are easier to deal with while he is unconscious. They all sit together in the living room, watching the girls’ favorite reality series, in which women ambush the men they love and propose marriage to them on live television.
Rafael sees his ultimate nightmare in that apartment. The more that Lourdes worms her way into his life, the more he loses grip on reality and his sanity. He has gone from being blissfully above the riff-raff of life to being plopped right into breeder hell. He has gone from being respected and lusted after to being pitied and mocked behind his back. If Rafael had ever had a vision of hell, it would look something like this.
Therefore, he is not overly surprised when Don Antonio’s smoldering ghost appears to him, chiding him for what he’s become and telling him the only way to be free is to kill the woman who is keeping him down.
The latest black comedy by Spanish maverick director Alex de Iglesia (La Comunidad, Muertos de Risa) is, as you can see, jet black. It is also funnier, braver and more brutally honest than most any American comedy being released this summer. (A scene when Rafael explains to Lourdes that he could never like her because the world programs people not to like the ugly is both shockingly mean and at the same time surprisingly profound for a rather shallow character.)
The typo in the Spanish title is completely intended – a reference to a European cartoon called Asterix pointing out the near impossibility of true perfection. This movie comes darn close, though. (8/05)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2005 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 4, 2005.