The Perfect Crime
(El Crimen Perfecto)

el crimen perfecto

The Perfect Crime (El Crimen Perfecto)
Made in: Spain
Language: Spanish
Director: Alex de la Iglesia
Starring: Guillermo Toledo, Mónica Cervera, Luis Varela, Enrique Villén, Kira Miró, Montse Mostaza, Fernando Tejero, Javier Gutiérrez
Year: 2004

Synopsis: In this outrageous comedy, Rafael González (Guillermo Toledo) is the best salesman in Madrid's largest department store. A smooth talker and sharp dresser, his "turf" is the women's clothing department. Also cocky, arrogant, and manipulative, he relishes single life and shamelessly sleeps with the gorgeous female members of his hand-picked staff.

He's had his way with all of them, except one. Her name is Lourdes (Mónica Cervera), and not surprisingly, she's extremely plain.

Rafael's goal is to be the store's floor manager, and the only other person standing in his way is "Don" Antonio Fraguas (Luis Varela). Antonio is a stuffy, older character who's in charge of the men's department. When the competition for the top spot gets fierce, Rafael accidentally kills Antonio during a brawl in one of the changing rooms.

The only witness to the deed is Lourdes, who has had eyes for Rafael for about a decade. She agrees to help cover up for him only if he does a few "favors" in return. Months later, Lourdes blackmails Rafael into marrying her. Trapped in his worst nightmare (partly due to his own manipulative ways), Rafael experiences his own personal hell as he goes day to day living under Lourdes' thumb.

When the police begin reinvestigating the death of Antonio, Rafael hatches an elaborate, harebrained scheme to exonerate himself and escape back into single life...

The Good: Irreverent, stylized, and bold, The Perfect Crime is a creative comedy that's fast paced and full of solid humor. Like some of Alex de la Iglesia's previous films, this one deals with society's obsession with outward appearances. However, it's much better than the freakishly awful Acción Mutante (Mutant Action), which he made in 1993.

Instead of a feel-good ugly duckling tale, Alex de la Iglesia gives the story somewhat of a cynical twist and has the guts to show us the ugly side of being ugly. In doing so he's indicting all of society- not just the pretty people.

The result is successful, as Mónica Cervera does an excellent job playing the simultaneously homey and dysfunctional Lourdes. Some of the film's funnier moments come when we're introduced to her crazy family and when we see Rafael gradually descend into madness. Instead of just treating us to a series of sight gags and one-liners, Alex de la Iglesia makes the effort to complement the story (and humor) with psychological depth.

The Bad: In the second half, some of the zaniness comes dangerously close to over-acting. As Lourdes sinks her claws deeper into the hapless Rafael, the pace definitely slows down a little and the mood seems to abruptly shift. The climax pays off in the end, but it feels as though it takes a long time to get there.

Who would like this movie: The Perfect Crime is for you if you like foreign films, sick humor, and a comedy that makes light of bad behavior. The social commentary is pretty intelligent, and although it's delightfully cynical, the movie does end on a positive note.

(3 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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