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DVD SAVANT

The Perfect Crime
(The Ferpect Crime)


The Perfect Crime
Netflix exclusive
2004 / Color / 2:35 anamorphic 16:9 / 105 min. / El Crimen Perfecto (Crimen Ferpecto) / Rental-only at present
Starring Guillermo Toledo, Mónica Cervera, Luis Varela, Enrique Villén, Fernando Tejero, Javier Gutiérrez, Kira Mir&ocute;
Cinematography José L. Moreno
Production Designer Arturo García Otaduy
Art Direction José Luis Arrizabalaga
Special Effects Antonio Molina
Film Editor Alejandro Lázaro
Original Music Roque Baños
Written by Álex de la Iglesia, Jorge Guerricaechevarría
Produced by Roberto Di Girolamo, Gustavo Ferrada, Álex de la Iglesia
Directed by Álex de la Iglesia

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

The interesting Spanish director Álex de la Iglesia scores with The Perfect Crime, a witty and stylish farce also known as "The Ferpect Crime." On screen, the main title alternates between Crimen Pefecto and "Crimen Ferpecto," letting us know that we're watching a comedy of errors. It's too bad they didn't stick with the distinctive alternate, as the title "The Perfect Crime" is too generic and forgettable for this highly entertaining picture.

De la Iglesia's sexy and wickedly funny tale and is soaked in lavish production values that put American comedies to shame. American viewers will compare it to movies by Pedro Almodóvar, particularly Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, but The Perfect Crime has a personality of its own.

Synopsis:

Pompous salesman and killer-diller ladies' man Rafael González (Guillermo Toledo) sets his sights on becoming floor manager of the ritzy department store where he works. But his sworn enemy Don Antonio Fraguas (Luis Varela) gets the job. They argue, and Don Antonio winds up dead. Rafael goes nuts wondering when he'll be caught until the most plain woman on his staff, Lourdes (Mónica Cervera) assures him the incriminating corpse will be safely disposed of ... if Rafael just cooperates with her amorous plans.

Álex de la Iglesia plays his murder-comedy as an oversexed and hyperactive farce, with a constantly moving camera playing tricks on the audience all the way. The film's whirlwind pace and sophisticated veneer sell Madrid as the hottest, most stylish city on the planet. At least that's how things begin for Rafael González, the rakish Lothario with a dozen willing women to choose from, all of them staggering beauties. The story starts as a completely non-PC Playboy fantasy of the kind that's largely become extinct in the U.S. -- sexy comedies here have devolved into grossout humor, usually at the expense of men.

Until De la Iglesia makes his promiscuous hero suffer for his vanity, the film is a bachelor's dream. Roguish Rafael talks to the camera like Michael Caine in Alfie, proudly welcoming us to his domain, the ladies' department of an enormous Madrid department store. Like a poster boy for Cad magazine, Rafael runs a harem of beauties ready and eager to spend the night with him. By bribing the night watchman Rafael frequently holds his private encounters in the store after hours, filching lobsters from the supermarket floor, dining in the furniture displays and making love in the bedroom department.

Just when we think that The Perfect Crime has nothing on its mind, it switches 180 degrees to put Rafael on the spot. He accidentally kills his obnoxious rival Don Antonio with a coat-hook, an event identical to a scene in the squeamishly unpleasant American film Very Bad Things. Rafael is forced to turn his lifestyle upside-down when the 'ugliest' female employee in the store helps him dispose of the body. Mónica Cervera's Lourdes isn't really all that unattractive but in this context she comes off as a visual shock to the spoiled Rafael, who has been ignoring her for ten years. Due to Don Antonio's mysterious disappearance Rafael gets the big job, but the blackmailing Lourdes turns his life upside-down. He's forced to sleep exclusively with her and spend time with her grotesque family. He must slowly fire all of the supermodel types in the clothes department; Lourdes replaces them with women even more homely than herself. Finally, Lourdes traps Rafael into a marriage proposal on a horrible live television show. It's life in Hell for Rafael, and his only exit seems to be another murder.

Returning at intervals is the ghost of Don Antonio, who haunts and advises Rafael as a greenish dismembered corpse, sometimes with a cleaver in his head. The ghost sympathizes with the plight of his murderer, now trapped in the clutches of the blackmailing Lourdes. There's also a funny, wall-eyed detective (Enrique Villén) trying to make a connection between the murder and the erratic, guilty-looking Rafael.

The Perfect Crime never slows down long enough to become overly sentimental or particularly introspective about its themes, but Álex de la Iglesia and Jorge Guerricaechevarría's cheeky script does have a point. It's basically 'beautiful people' versus the rest of us ordinary folk, an idea that the writing-directing team visited in their Mutant Action in 1993. In that cult Sci Fi comedy a group of deviant mutants invade a planet inhabited only by good-looking people and kidnap an important man's daughter for ransom. In The Perfect Crime, Lourdes doesn't blossom into a beauty, but she does prove that ordinary consumers and people on the street both fear and resent the 'beautiful people' that discriminate against them and dominate the culture in fashion and entertainment. Sales in the ladies' department skyrocket with Lourdes' new corps of unintimidating, 'ordinary' salesgirls. And Lourdes herself becomes a new fashion phenomenon with a silly boutique specializing in a new 'circus clown' look.

One of the few connections between this director and Pedro Almódovar is a shared addiction to film lore. While figuring out how to murder Lourdes, Rafael is inspired by scenes from none other than Luis Buñuel's 1955 classic The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz, aka Ensayo de un Crimen. This wacky Spanish comedy is a worthy, if lightweight, successor.


Netflix's release of The Perfect Crime is a stunning enhanced (2.35:1) transfer of this vibrantly colorful comedy. Roque Baños' lively and eccentric music score sounds great in a choice of 5.1 or two channel stereo.

Savant is informed that in Region 1, the title is a Netflix rental-only exclusive, at least for now. Although the disc has no extras, its simple menus have an attractive feature: No logos (not even a Netflix logo), no disclaimers, no promos and no video piracy insults. The disc goes in, we hit the Play button, and we get to see a movie without further fuss. What a concept!


On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, The Perfect Crime rates:
Movie: Excellent
Video: Excellent
Sound: Excellent
Supplements: none
Packaging: Rental-only at present
Reviewed: March 12, 2006





DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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