TROUBLE CITY

CLASH OF THE TARTANS: PERFECT CRIME, THE (EL CRIMEN FERPECTO)

Home VideoTom FuchsComment

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STUDIO:
  Tartan Video
MSRP:  $22.95
RATED:   UNRATED
RUNNING TIME:  105 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
o Available Audio Tracks: Spanish (DTS 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
o Director commentary
o "The Making of The Perfect Crime" featurette
o Trailer

THE PITCH

Employee of the Month meets Very Bad Things?  (not as shitty as that sounds, promise)

THE HUMANS

Guillermo Toledo, Monica Cervera, Luis Verela

THE NUTSHELL

Rafael (Toledo) is on the cusp of becoming the floor manager of the department store he calls home.  He’s a Don Juan-type seducing all of the women in the ladies wear section, and seems to be poised for the big promotion until a cruel twist of fate leaves him under the management of his rival Don Antonio (Verela).  Another twist of fate leaves Antonio dead and Rafael covering up the tracks.  Unfortunately for him, ‘ugly’ co-worker Lourdes (Cervera) witnesses the crime and helps him hide the evidence, but at a cost that just might be too much for Rafael to handle.

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Matthew Barney's closet.

THE LOWDOWN

I’m familiar with Alex de le Iglesia by reputation only.  His film 800 Balas racked up quite the acclaim on these here internets of ours and it was through that positive word that I decided to check out his newest film, The Perfect Crime.  What I got was a flawed but entertaining picture anchored by its two main performances and some well orchestrated darkly comedic hijinx, which doesn’t add up to much more than a fun diversion.
 
The real meat and potatoes of this movie comes out of its lead actor, Guillermo Toledo, who manages to remain likable and charismatic despite being a prick.  A large part of that is due in part to the machinations of the plot (most of the people in this thing are less likable than a very seedy character, which helps), but without the actor hitting the right tone this could’ve been a disaster where audiences felt such a disconnect from the main character that they would hope he got his comeuppance and just become bored with his efforts to not do so.  Also in a solid (but over-the-top, as are many things in this picture) performance is Monica Cervera as Lourdes, the antagonist of the tale.  She plays her part perfectly and is the right kind of foil to the Rafael character’s sleazy charms. 

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Pablo's one man performance of Sling Blade is nothing short of amazing.

Tonally, the film goes for incisive social commentary just as often as it goes for ridiculous over-the-top slapstick and broad moments, and they oftentimes cohere to make a solid whole.  However, sometimes the more absurdist touches (the recurring severed head of Don Antonio that haunts Rafeal whilst giving him advice is probably less funny in execution than in concept) don’t work as well as the filmmakers probably had intended.  The direction is competent (and pretty exemplary at points), the plotting is decent (although starting with a nonsequitor and then flashing back to a first person monologue to the camera is a little bit messy) and it has some downright charismatic performances from its two leads.  However, it didn’t strike me as anything great, and perhaps could even be seen as slumming if I was more familiar with the director’s oeuvre.  And when the director tries to insert a message into the film about society and it’s valuing of beauty over ability/intelligence, it feels unnecessary and forced (especially a ‘dramatic’ moment in the final act, that just doesn’t play in the way I sense Iglesia would like it to) and rings untrue to the story that’s being told.

The quotes on the DVD view Iglesia as the heir apparent to Pedro Almodovar, and I think that’s a little off: he paints in much broader strokes that Almodovar and has a looser style (for example, starting the movie with an unrelated lead-in that segues into a flashback where the main character is addressing the camera is a little bit messy) but I get the comparison.  Both filmmakers are out to make movies that complicate the status quo of cinema, creating stories that don’t adhere to genre convention or conventions of any sort.  Iglesias spells this out pretty explicitly throughout, but he probably didn’t need to do so much work seeing as how the film is a prime example of how nobody’s perfect.  It’s an entertaining motion picture that showcases just how adept Iglesias is with the camera (he has an amazing shot in the third act where the camera continually pulls back through two cars from it’s starting point), but it doesn’t really add up to a whole lot thematically or stick with you.  Still recommended, however.

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He may not be, but his giant muppet erection is terrifyingly corporeal.

THE PACKAGE
 
For starters, the title is mistranslated.  It should be called The Ferpect Crime.  If it was really a true translation of it’s original title, it would make a bit more sense thematically (while I’d like to give credit to them for changing it because it’s a little too on-the-nose, they probably just thought people would think they had a spelling error on the DVD, which kind of feeds into the idea Iglesias is trying to get across, but lets end this run-on digression while we still can, okay?) than it’s current title.  The cover art isn’t anything to get excited about, but it conveys the tone of dark comedy better than a set of floating heads or generic imagery in that ilk.  There’s a nice little spate of extras here for fans of Iglesia.  Contained within is a laid back feature commentary in which they spew effusive praise on every cast and crew member possible while relaying little bits of relevant info (the fact that the shopping center was built up from scratch is quite impressive, actually).  The best bit of business in the special features is the behind-the-scenes making of which isn’t anything remarkable, but is a nice candid look at the process of making a movie.  Iglesias is even caught in a few candidly angry moments on the thing, but the most interesting part of the doc is the fact that while in America the set during a love scene is a sacred place where only the bare minimum of cast members are generally allowed on set, abroad they have the fucking behind-the-scenes footage guys hanging on during the sequence.  Goddamn sexually liberated foreign countries.  Also on board is a trailer.

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See what I mean? 

6.5 out of 10