Saturday, April 01, 2006

Ferpect Crime

Now this movie was funny, colourful, whimsical, quirky - I loved it. It starts off with the same sort of contest as 36 Quai des Orfevres: Rafael and Don Antonio both work in a department store: the position of floor manager is vacant and whichever of them has the most sales for the month will have the job. Rafael is a legend: he can sell anything to anyone (I was getting flashbacks to Glengarry Glen Ross) and is on top of the world (Bonfire of the Vanities came to mind). He has been with all of the women in the store, at least the ones he has noticed. If they're not hot, he won't have noticed them. He owns the place - it is his whole world - he was even born here. Don Antonio is a funny wee man in an over loud check coat.

But then things turn to crap: Rafael has this huge sale on the last day of the contest, when he charms a woman to buy a 16,000 Euro fur coat she can't afford. Rafa doesn't know this, so is elated for one night - which he celabrates by having a lobster dinner, champagne, a woman - all on the store. When he finds out that Antonio is in fact his boss, there's a row: in which Antonio is "accidentally" killed. So the dillemma is how to conceal the body. What Rafael doesn't know is that his problems are just beginning to start - one of the women he has never noticed, Lourdes,
knows everything. In fact, her previous experience as a butcher's assistant turns out handy in disposing of the body.

But she's crazily manipulative, with a shocking family - pure trashy background. Her favourite TV programme is one in which TV cameras hijack innocent blokes, while their girlfriends pop the question. She has this mad idea that fashion should be taken over by images from clown suits - baggy pants, floppy shows, the waistcoats and red jackets.

Rafael is drawn in more and more to her net. All his fun is gone, because she fires all the beautiful sales assistants and replaces them with frumps - making the customers look good, so sales go up. He has to spend all of his time with her, while desperately trying to hide that from anyone who knows him. He's no longer cool, heading straight for the mediocrity he so despises. Any time he tries to take a breather, she's threatening him with disclosure of his secret: it will have no consequences for her, as she had no life prior to him. At the same time, Antonio
is his companion - not so much as his conscience but as his partner. (He says to Rafael "What you really have to do is kill her once and for all." "Don Antonio, this is not right at all. You are dead, you can't chat with me.")

Rafael wants out, and is planning the perfect crime to allow that, one in which Lourdes will die but it will look like something else, not murder, so that he can escape the consequences. He does his research, by getting out lots of videos - the film title is a play on a miss-spelt name of one of these videos. and the results he achieves.

Of course, there is some substance to the story as well - a commentary on our consumerist society, on the place of those who don't conform to the image of perfection (and it isn't just about the women - Rafael's male assistants are carefully chosen not to be any sort of threat to him). But while making thse points, the movie is firmly located in its genre, that of black comedy, and worked wonderfully. So, it didn't matter too much that the end was just a little flat.


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