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DVD SAVANT

Deep Crimson


Deep Crimson
Home Vision Entertainment
1996 / Color / 1:85 anamorphic 16:9 / 114 min. / Profundo carmesí / Street Date March 15, 2005 / 19.95
Starring Daniel Giménez Cacho, Regina Orozco, Marisa Paredes
Cinematography Guillermo Granillo
Production Designers Mónica Chirinos, Macarena Folache, Antonio Muño-Hierro, Patricia Nava, Marisa Pecanins
Film Editor Rafael Castanedo
Original Music David Mansfield
Written by Paz Alicia Garciadiego
Produced by Pablo Barbachano, Marin Karmitz, José María Morales, Miguel Necoechea
Directed by Arturo Ripstein

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Arturo Ripstein's Mexican remake of The Honeymoon Killers transposes the true story neatly to a new country, but besides returning the events to their 1940s timeframe adds little but unpleasant detail. Regina Orozco and Daniel Giménez Cacho are excellent as two thoroughly repulsive human beings, but standoffish writing and direction restrict our involvement with the horrible happenings.

Synopsis:

Miserable and overweight, incompetent nurse and mother Coral Fabre (Regina Orozco) responds to a lonely hearts add hoping to find a mate like Charles Boyer. Instead she gets Nicolás Estrella (Daniel Giménez Cacho), a slick gigolo who steals from women and keeps a file of hot prospects. Coral ditches her crying children at a convent orphanage and forces herself on Nicolás, and when he discovers that Coral is willing to back him up in his crooked life he returns her love. Even though Coral pretends to be Nicolás' sister to keep up business, it doesn't work out. Coral's insatiable jealousy brings the truth out into the open again and again, leading to horrible murders and a sorry end.

Deep Crimson is a close remake of the 1970 Leonard Kastle film and not a return to the original criminal case. Story alterations are mostly superficial. The gigolo hero pretends to be Castilian Spanish to impress his female victims, and in place of a more detailed character he's given a fevered fixation over his toupée.

The film puts the lion's share of the blame on the Regina Orozco's character Coral. Looking like a malignant Anna Magnani, Coral is much more repulsive than the woman in the first movie. This overweight nymphomaniac is a terrible nurse with bad breath and body odor ("It's from working with cadavers!") who also abuses her adorable young children. From a Latin point of view her last motherly offense is a damning one. When Nicolás uses her kids as an excuse to break off their relationship, Coral abandons them without a second thought.

The unholy pair criss-cross the desert in an old sedan, responding to inquiries from lonely widows. There are again three women who become their prey. Nicolás is more concerned about losing his hairpiece and while Coral finishes off their victims cowers in the corner. One is a shameless hussy and the next a clueless beata hiding her impure thoughts behind religious sentiments. Neither are necessarily bad people but in this sleazy context they're entirely unappetizing.

Ripstein does take a moment to show his anti-clerical viewpoint by introducing another woman, an ex-Anarchist from Spain who distrusts church talk and immediately sees through the couple. She's given the door, but not before we remember Ripstein's 1974 The Holy Office, a harrowing tale of Mexican Jews rounded up and tortured by the witch hunters in the name of the church.

In a conservative Latin context, man-crazy floozies and religious zealots aren't given much respect. The only victim we're meant to side with is the last, a hard-working beauty with an adorable daughter. Shešs unfortunately just as trusting as the others, and Coral's jealousy is more out of control than ever.

Ripstein's choice of filming in unbroken masters distances us from his victims, a gambit that tends to mute the drama. The film is realistic and consistent in its outlook, but can't match the rich characters of The Honeymoon Killers.

(Spoiler)

For its bleak finish, Deep Crimson offers a sobering look at rural Mexican justice circa 1940. The local police chief looks at what Nicolás and Coral have done, hears their confessions and unceremoniously shoots them without a trial. Nicolás' main concern at the end is to worry whether the cop will let him wear his toupée, a belated attempt at black humor.

The director and his stars have busy careers. Daniel Giménez Cacho was in Cronos and played a priest in Pedro Almodóvar's Bad Education. Regina Orozco had high visibility in the cult movies Perdita Durango and Santitos. Victim Marisa Paredes went on to star in Almodóvar's All About My Mother.


Home Vision Entertainment's DVD of Deep Crimson has a brilliant enhanced transfer that makes the most of the film's colorful photography. The package art looks like a classic pulp paperback cover. A French trailer and a helpful liner essay from Jorge Ruffinelli are provided as extras.


On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Deep Crimson rates:
Movie: Good -
Video: Excellent
Sound: Excellent
Supplements: trailer
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: March 6, 2005


Republished by permission of Turner Classic Movies.




DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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