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The Perfect Crime Movie: Defiantly ‘Offensive’ Black Comedy

The Perfect Crime Monica Cervera Guillermo ToledoThe Perfect Crime movie with Mónica Cervera and Guillermo Toledo. Álex de la Iglesia’s satire features situations that many will find tasteless and deeply offensive. Likely the same people who embrace our socially approved – perverse, cruel, destructive – values.
  • The Perfect Crime (2004) movie review: As a shy, unattractive salesgirl who, following a deadly twist of fate, reveals herself to be an ambitious, domineering, sexually insatiable Medusa with poor fashion taste, Mónica Cervera is the best thing about Álex de la Iglesia’s otherwise uneven – and boldly subversive – comedy about our perverse social values and mores.

The Perfect Crime movie review: Mónica Cervera tour de force makes Álex de la Iglesia’s brazenly ‘offensive’ comedy a must-see

In Álex de la Iglesia’s pitch-black comedy The Perfect Crime / Crimen ferpecto, the suave, go-getting, self-assured Rafael (Guillermo Toledo) has two major goals in life: To bed every beautiful woman in sight and to become the clothing department manager 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.

Mouse-to-Medusa transformation

That someone turns out to be Lourdes (Mónica Cervera), a nail-biting, pathologically shy 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 sensual Rafael, but now a magical transformation occurs.

She quickly takes charge of the situation: Don Antonio’s body is gleefully chopped up and disposed of. Next, Rafael finds himself at the receiving end of a blackmail threat. Either he becomes her lover (and later husband), 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.

So desperate that he has begun hallucinating, Rafael – like Marcello Mastroianni in Pietro Germi’s Divorce Italian Style – starts planning the perfect way to get rid of his overbearing wife/accomplice.[1]

Show-stopper Mónica Cervera

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, as a “freak,” he could relate to the film’s wide-eyed, big-nosed, haughtily twisted heroine – a character that wouldn’t remind anyone of Marilyn Monroe or Angelina Jolie. But no matter.

As the mousy, homely, deceptively insecure department store salesclerk 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 “working woman” – à la Jean Arthur or Rosalind Russell, with the addition of a blood-drawing edge – lifts The Perfect Crime to the realm of classic (black) comedy.

The Perfect Crime Guillero Toledo Monica CerveraThe Perfect Crime movie with Guillermo Toledo and Mónica Cervera.

Fearlessly subversive madcap humor

As a plus, de la Iglesia and Guerricaechevarría come up with several un-PC segments that would have done fellow Spaniard Pedro Almodóvar proud, including an uproarious family dinner conversation centered on Lourdes’ mother (Gracia Olayo) and sister (Alicia Andújar).

The latter is a precocious – and psychopathic – eight-year-old who, much to Mom’s annoyance, claims she can’t eat because she became pregnant after being raped by her gym teacher, who also gave her AIDS.

“If you send me to reform school,” the little girl warns Mom, “I’ll leave the gas switch on and we’ll all be blown to pieces.”

Sounds juvenile?

It’s anything but. Flawlessly acted, directed, and edited (Alejandro Lázaro), the family dinner sequence is a brilliant, rolling-in-the-aisles exemplar of – fearlessly subversive – madcap comedy.

The Perfect Crime less perfect without its leading lady

Unfortunately, despite its many positive elements – the sort of stuff that would horrify and/or disgust the easily offended and the politically correct everywhere – and leading man Guillermo Toledo’s best efforts, the 105-minute The Perfect Crime suffers whenever its black-as-peat heart, Mónica Cervera, isn’t around.

Without that one key performance, Álex de la Iglesia and Jorge Guerricaechevarría’s gritty, brave satire on our perverted social and personal values is unable to sustain its comedic level.

The Perfect Crime / Crimen ferpecto / El Crimen Perfecto (2004)

Director: Álex de la Iglesia.

Screenplay: Álex de la Iglesia & Jorge Guerricaechevarría.

Cast: Guillermo Toledo. Mónica Cervera. Luis Varela. Enrique Villén. Fernando Tejero. Javier Gutiérrez. Kira Miró. Gracia Olayo. Alicia Andújar.


The Perfect Crime Movie (2004) Review” notes

Misspelled title

[1] 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 also works as an homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s Crimen Perfecto, better known as Dial M for Murder (1954), in which husband Ray Milland attempts to frame unfaithful wife Grace Kelly for murder.

It should be noted that some English-language outlets refer to Álex de la Iglesia’s 2004 satire as El Crimen Perfecto (with the original misspelling gone).


The Perfect Crime Movie” endnotes

The Perfect Crime earned Álex de la Iglesia a Best Director nomination at the 2005 European Film Awards. In addition, de la Iglesia’s black comedy was shortlisted for six Spanish Academy Goya Awards, including Best Actor (Guillermo Toledo), New Actress (Mónica Cervera), and Supporting Actor (Luis Varela).

The Perfect Crime movie reviewed at the AFI FEST (website).

Guillermo Toledo and Mónica Cervera The Perfect Crime movie images: Vitagraph Films.

The Perfect Crime Movie: Defiantly ‘Offensive’ Black Comedy” last updated in September 2021.

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