Spanish `Ferpecto' is dark and delightful

Review B+

September 23, 2005|By Kevin Thomas | Kevin Thomas,LOS ANGELES TIMES

The Spanish have been masters of sly black comedy, and El Crimen Ferpecto (or The Ferpect Crime) is a splendid example.

It has to do with the comeuppance of a Madrid department store salesman (Guillermo Toledo) who aspires to an elegant lifestyle commensurate with his appearance and manner. When a floor manager drops dead, Toledo's Rafael is confident he will replace him.

Meanwhile, Rafael has it pretty good. Not only is he head of the women's clothing and accessories department, but after hours he has his way with his beautiful and eager staffers. Rafael may have charm to spare, but when it comes to his longed-for promotion, he is quietly outmaneuvered by the middle-aged, rug-wearing Don Antonio (Luis Varela).

A perverse twist of fate later lands Rafael the position he so coveted but places him at the mercy of a blackmailer - Lourdes (Monica Cervera), a perfume saleswoman so homely Rafael doesn't even know her name. Lourdes has worshiped Rafael from afar for so long and has been so totally unnoticed by him that the sudden power unhinges her. Rafael quickly realizes that desperate measures are required.

The film takes on larger implications when Rafael also becomes aware of how people are conditioned to abhor homeliness to the extent that it becomes impossible to see beyond appearance to a person's inner value.

Director Alex de la Iglesia is as skilled at sly storytelling as he is with actors, and Toledo displays a sense of humor that keeps Rafael sympathetic. Cervera has a terrific part that allows her to trigger a rightly ambivalent response in the viewer.

El Crimen Ferpecto is perfectly delightful.

Kevin Thomas writes for The Los Angeles Times.

El Crimen Ferpecto (Vitagraph) Starring Guillermo Toledo, Monica Cervera, Luis Varela.

Directed by Alex de la Iglesia.

Unrated.

Time 104 minutes

REVIEW B+

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