It will come as no surprise that the director and cowriter of Crimen Ferpecto (2004), Alex de la Iglesia, was first given a shot at making features when Pedro Almodóvar produced Iglesia’s Mutant Action back in 1993. It’s also worth noting that Iglesia’s invariable cowriter, Jorge Guerricaechevarría, cowrote Live Flesh (1997) with Almodóvar, especially since that film and Crimen Ferpecto both use footage from Luis Buñuel’s The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (1955). There’s definitely a similarity in tone between Iglesia and Almodóvar, but it’s a comparison that can easily be carried too far, since there are as many—or possibly more—differences. Crimen Ferpecto is a nastier-toned work than anything in Almodóvar’s humanistic filmography, and it’s also more geared to outright slapstick and fantasy than Almodóvar’s work. The degree of cinematic invention and the use of bright, bold colors—not to mention a taste for the outrageous—do, however, link the two.
The story line of Crimen Ferpecto (which is mistranslated as The Perfect Crime and otherwise incorrectly referred to as Crimen Perfecto in almost every writing about the film) involves a department-store clerk/lothario (Guillermo Toledo), who dreams of becoming floor manager, but loses out to his unpleasant nemesis (Luis Varela), whom he accidentally kills in a fight. Realizing his story is improbable, he decides to dispose of the body, but is too inept. He’s helped out by department-store wallflower Lourdes (Mónica Cervera), who worships him from afar and uses the situation to blackmail him into a romantic relationship—a status that grows more intolerable on a daily basis, hence his need to commit the “perfect crime” (or “ferpect crime”). What follows is an outburst of filmic inventiveness and a nicely convoluted plot with elements of outright fantasy (he’s haunted by and becomes friends with his murdered nemesis’ ghost), nearly all of which works. Despite generally glowing reviews and the emergence at the time of a crop of terrific Spanish and Mexican filmmakers (del Toro, Cuarón, Iñárritu etc.), Crimen Ferpecto made little impact on the U.S. box office—and it certainly deserved more attention than it received. Definitely worth checking out—as are, I suspect, Iglesia’s other films.