The Perfect Crime

Dir: Alex de la Iglesia
Star: Guillermo Toledo, Mónica Cervera, Luis Varela, Fernando Tejero

The setting is a Madrid department store: suave Rafael (Toledo) has his sights on becoming floor manager, and getting the women beneath him...well, beneath him. However, when beaten to the job, he ends up accidentally killing his rival; a dowdy shopgirl, Lourdes (Cervera), is the witness and, after helping Rafeal dispose of the body, blackmails him into becoming her lover. As a happy bachelor life collapses around him, Rafael's sanity disintegrates too. Haunted by the ghost of his victim, he plots another death - this time, one that will be quite deliberate. The film is at its best during the opening section which keeps wrong-footing the audience, from an opening scene which made me wonder if this was a Spanish version of Dogville. The urban jungle of life in the store is beautifully realised, and it's a shame we don't see more before the film largely moves on.

Outside that, there's less impact, though Lourdes' family would be enough to drive anyone to contemplate murder. It's quite easy to work out where the script is going, and that's probably the main weakness. While the black comedy angles are handled deftly, and both leads give entertaining performances, the story is too predictable to sustain interest at the level of the opening. It's never dull, however - though I do wonder how much of the humour here is lost in translation. Certainly, and somewhat oddly, the title has been mis-translated: it should be The Ferpect Crime, for reasons the film makes clear. Still, enough makes its way through for an entertaining time, and the wry social commentary does give this a little more edge than your average romantic-comedy.

[The DVD was released through Tartan Video USA on March 13th, including a commentary by the director, the original trailer, and a "making of" documentary. For more information, visit the Tartan Video website]

February 2007

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