'The Perfect Crime': Brilliant Mónica Cervera tour de force in Álex de la Iglesia's pitch-black comedy
In Álex de la Iglesia's daringly subversive, pitch-black comedy The Perfect Crime / Crimen ferpecto, the ambitious, suave Rafael (Guillermo Toledo) has two major goals in life: to bed every beautiful woman in sight and to become the manager of the clothing department at one of Madrid's top department stores.
Everything seems to be going Rafael's way – until he discovers that his chief rival, Don Antonio (Luis Varela), has been selected as the new Emperor of the Floor.
A heated confrontation between Rafael and his newly appointed boss leads to the latter's accidental death. In a panic, Rafael instinctively tries to hide the body. He is unaware that someone has overheard the fatal argument.
That someone turns out to be Lourdes (Mónica Cervera) a shy, nail-biting salesgirl whom Rafael abhors because he finds her ugly. In the past, Lourdes used to become an emotional wreck whenever she crossed paths with the sensuous Rafael; now, things are different.
She quickly takes charge of the situation by gleefully chopping up Don Antonio's body, getting rid of it, and blackmailing Rafael. Either he becomes her lover, or…
Although Rafael doesn't have much of a choice, he soon realizes that he can't cope with Lourdes, for she needs a perpetual sex machine to keep her satisfied. Besides, she follows his every move and has turned the clothing department into her own private fiefdom. Desperate, Rafael starts planning the perfect way to get rid of his overbearing accomplice.
Mónica Cervera: 'The Perfect Crime' show-stopper
While speaking to the audience at the AFI FEST screening of The Perfect Crime, Álex de la Iglesia – who also co-wrote the screenplay with Jorge Guerricaechevarría – explained that he was a “freak,” and therefore could relate to the film's twisted, wide-eyed, big-nosed heroine – a character that wouldn't remind anyone of Marilyn Monroe or Jayne Mansfield or Angelina Jolie.
But no matter. As the homely, mousy, deceptively insecure salesgirl who turns out to be a fiercely determined, sexually insatiable, all-seeing Medusa, Mónica Cervera – in a role written expressly for her – is a unique kind of antiheroine. Whenever Cervera is on screen, this Spanish-speaking Rosalind Russell with a fiercely sharp edge lifts The Perfect Crime to the realm of classic (black) comedy.
Subversive & politically incorrect humor
As a plus, Álex de la Iglesia and Jorge Guerricaechevarría come up with a few outrageous, politically incorrect bits that would have done fellow Spaniard Pedro Almodóvar proud, including an uproarious dinner-table conversation involving Lourdes' mother and sister. The latter is a precocious – and sociopathic – 8-year-old girl who, much to mom's annoyance, claims she can't eat her dinner because she became pregnant after being raped by her gym teacher, who also gave her AIDS.
Unfortunately, despite its many positive elements – the sort of stuff that would horrify and/or disgust prudes and the politically correct everywhere – the 105-minute The Perfect Crime suffers whenever Mónica Cervera is not around. Without that one key performance, de la Iglesia and Guerricaechevarría's gritty, brave satire on our perverted social and personal values is unable to sustain its comedic level.
Note: The original Spanish title of The Perfect Crime is (mis)spelled Crimen ferpecto (“Ferpect Crime”) so as to match an important plot development. The title is also an homage to Alfred Hitchcock's Crimen Perfecto, better known as Dial M for Murder (1954), in which husband Ray Milland attempts to frame wife Grace Kelly for murder.
The Perfect Crime / Crimen ferpecto (2004)
Dir.: Álex de la Iglesia.
Scr.: Álex de la Iglesia and Jorge Guerricaechevarría.
Cast: Guillermo Toledo. Mónica Cervera. Luis Varela. Enrique Villén. Fernando Tejero. Javier Gutiérrez. Kira Miró. Gracia Olayo. Penélope Velasco.
The Perfect Crime initially reviewed at the 2004 AFI FEST.
The Perfect Crime cast info via the IMDb.
Guillermo Toledo and Mónica Cervera The Perfect Crime images: Vitagraph Films.
“The Perfect Crime: Dazzling Mónica Cervera in Defiantly Un-PC Black Comedy” last updated in January 2019.