El Crimen Ferpecto (The Perfect
Rafael Gonzales (Guillermo
Toledo) has the perfect life. He is handsome. He is smart.
He is a born salesman.
Rafael works as the head of
the women's department of a huge department store in Madrid called Yeya's.
It is fate that he works there – he had been born in that very same store
when his mother went into early labor many years before. Rafael gets
his clothing and all of his other needs there (usually not paying for them.)
He has a whole gaggle of beautiful salesgirls that he juggles as after-hours
conquests – all of whom smother him with sex, strings-free companionship
and baked goods while they catfight amongst themselves about who he really
likes most. The male salespeople idolize him. Rafael has an easy
job that he is good at, no real responsibilities and ties and a tiny kingdom
over which he rules with charm and good nature.
The perfect life starts to
crumble when the store decides to pit Rafael against Don Antonio, the head
of the men's department, for the job of store manager. Rafael and Don
Antonio hate each other – Don Antonio is the opposite of Rafael, a
dedicated company man who has not needs or urges or probably even life
outside of the job. It is decreed that whoever sells more in a week
will get the position. When a bounced check leads to Don Antonio
getting the job, he gleefully fires Rafael. This leads to a fight in
which Rafael accidentally kills his new boss.
Then it turns out that a
worker named Lourdes (Mónica Cervera)
witnessed the death.
Guillermo had never
really noticed Lourdes before, frankly because she was ugly. However,
Lourdes had noticed Guillermo, she had been paying a disturbing amount of
attention to his life and loves all the while hoping and waiting for her
turn. With the killing of Don Antonio, the tables have finally turned
in her favor. She cheerfully helps him dispose of the body (in the
store's incinerator) and agrees to be his co-conspirator, all the while
letting him know in no uncertain terms that there was a price for her
silence. They would be lovers and she increasingly exerts more and
more pressure for him to be the man that she wants him to be.
At first Rafael is able to
keep it on the down low, they make love at night and barely acknowledge each
other by day. However, Lourdes continuously imposes her will on him;
making him take her to places where they will be caught by others, forcing
him to fire all his salesgirls and replace them with plain ones.
She takes him to meet her
family. Lourdes has a passive-aggressively friendly and helpful
mother. She has a rebellious eleven-year-old sister who is so angry
that she makes it her entire raison d'etre to shock her numb family
with stories of pregnancy and AIDS. Her cuckolded father is so
smothered by the women in his life that he sleeps through every family
gathering because they are easier to deal with while he is unconscious.
They all sit together in the living room, watching the girls' favorite
reality series, in which women ambush the men they love and propose marriage
to them on live television.
Rafael sees his ultimate
nightmare in that apartment. The more that Lourdes worms her way into
his life, the more he loses grip on reality and his sanity. He has
gone from being blissfully above the riff-raff of life to being plopped
right into breeder hell. He has gone from being respected and lusted
after to being pitied and mocked behind his back. If Rafael had ever
had a vision of hell, it would look something like this.
Therefore, he is not overly
surprised when Don Antonio's smoldering ghost appears to him, chiding him
for what he's become and telling him the only way to be free is to kill the
woman who is keeping him down.
The latest black comedy by
Spanish maverick director Alex de Iglesia (La Comunidad, Muertos de Risa)
is, as you can see, jet black. It is also funnier, braver and more
brutally honest than most any American comedy being released this summer.
(A scene when Rafael explains to Lourdes that he could never like her
because the world programs people not to like the ugly is both shockingly
mean and at the same time surprisingly profound for a rather shallow
The typo in the Spanish title is
completely intended – a reference to a European cartoon called Asterix
pointing out the near impossibility of true perfection. This movie
comes darn close, though.
Copyright ©2005 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: October 4, 2005.