A review of “El Crimen Perfecto” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: Not Rated but could be R for language, violence and sexual situations

Run Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles

 

 

This wild and wacky black comedy has colorful raconteur Pedro Almodóvar on the brain.

Rafael Gonzalez (Guillermo Toledo) is the king of women’s wear at a swanky Spanish department store. The world is Rafael’s oyster as he charms female customers into buying things they don’t need and sexy salesgirls into dressing rooms for after-hours hanky panky.

All is right in Rafael’s world as he impatiently waits to be named floor manager. Unfortunately the job goes to archrival Don Antonia (Luis Varela) in men’s furnishings, at which point Rafael comes unglued. 

An impromptu scuffle in the back room finds Don Antonia very dead and Rafael covertly disposing of his body. As luck would have it the homeliest salesgirl on the floor (Mónica Cervera as Lourdes) is witness to the crime, seizing the opportunity to make Rafael her own. Hello blackmail!

With a pinch of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and a splash of Alfred Hitchcock director Álex de la Iglesia offers his dark farce eclectic twists alongside an Almodóvar-esque palette (splashy!) and dense slapstick. 

Two-thirds of the cautionary fable is sheer delight as Rafael’s staggering arrogance gives way to trepidation and Lourdes’ sinister emotional agenda comes full circle. 

Iglesia finds himself unsure of how to top off his frenzied narrative -- consequently the last act drags. Repeated appearances by Don Antonio’s ghost stoop to folly while Lourdes’ oversexed desperation ultimately crosses the line.

Tall, dark and handsome Toledo makes “Perfecto” what it is, a luscious ode to Latin machismo and the fragile state of the male ego.