The Netflix Report

Movie reviews from my Netflix queue. Highly personal and opinionated!

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Monday, April 17, 2006

El Crimen Ferpecto

Netflix has this listed under the incorrect English translation of “The Perfect Crime.” It loses the important misspelling in the title this way and confuses it with a real thriller entitled “El Crimen Perfecto.” They should list it as “The Ferpect Crime.”

This is a black comedy from Spain and references the earlier thriller. I was unfamiliar with the leads, as they haven’t broken through to the Hollywood glossy film industry. The male lead is Guillermo Toledo, who has an impressive list of movies to his credit on IMDB, even though he only started in 1995. The female lead is Monica Cervera, who doesn’t have many films behind her. The director is Alex de la Iglesia, (which literally translates to Alex of the Church – completely inappropriate for the content!) and he seems to have a strong legion of fans, although it’s my first experience of his work.

The plot involves an extremely self-confident and successful salesman (Rafael), calculatingly working his way up the corporate ladder for the perks it can provide and simultaneously trying to bed as many gorgeous women as possible. Think “Alfie” where the main character has more job ambition. Rafael addresses us directly through the camera (a la Alfie) throughout the early portion of the film and later we shift to listening to what’s going on in his mind.

Things don’t go exactly as he plans and he finds himself scrambling to adjust and correct his life. Eventually he realizes he needs to pull off “the perfect crime” (and even rents the earlier film to get pointers). There is a LOT of action, twists, turns, and surprises involved in the plot, so I’m not going to give out any details. The fun comes from seeing things evolve at the same time he does. Try not to read other reviews that give away plot developments.

The movie starts off fantastically. The opening scene sets us up for a slightly warped take on reality and you can view the remainder of the story as an allegory or fairy tale if you like. The set design and cinematography is all bright colors and sharply lit scenes. This will be eye-popping on a DLP TV set! Most of the action occurs inside the department store where Rafael works. Through the first 45 minutes I was laughing out loud and rooting for this slightly sleazy but thoroughly likeable character. I thought it had Hollywood remake written all over it and I was amusing myself casting the American actors.

Then the movie abruptly shifted from bright, cheery comedy to a darker, more antagonistic story. Think “War of the Roses” or “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” to see if you like some nastiness with your humor. It turns into more of a comedic suspense story with seriously nasty overtones and I think this is where de la Iglesia loses his way. Scenes drag on a bit longer than they need to, we leave the main characters for visits with others they interact with, and I eventually found myself looking at my watch and waiting for the inevitable resolution. The end was a bit too silly and illogical for my tastes.

But overall, I enjoyed it more than I didn’t enjoy it. The early stuff is simply too good not to watch. And the women that Rafael burns through... Ooh la la! I’m thinking of chucking it all and becoming a salesman in a Spanish department store! This is definitely NOT a family-friendly film. There is nudity, sexual encounters, and violence.

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