Álex de la Iglesia, Mexico/USA, 1997, 121 min.
Before: I very much enjoyed Day of the Beast when I saw it at a film festival, but Iglesia’s other films have been near-misses. I’m expecting to at least see more of his twisted and colorful style in this one.
After: Alex de la Iglesia has shown in the past with Day of the Beast that he can present the absurd and insane in an entertaining manner. But only two words come to mind when thinking of this film: bloated and juvenile.
The film opens on Rosie Perez (the titular Perdita) lying on a luxurious white bed while a jaguar prowls over her, pulling the sheet down with it’s mouth to reveal her naked body.
This dream of hers is broken when she awakens in an airport. It’s unclear where she is going or what her plan is, but it’s definitely clear, by the way she handles a businessman trying to pick her up, that she is looking for trouble.
And she definitely finds it in the form of Romeo Dolorosa (A young, long-haired Javier Bardem). Romeo is a maniac, a criminal, and a demonic priest. Perdita and Romeo quickly get together and start wreaking havoc.
Added to the mix are a government agent out to capture Romeo (James Gandolfini), and Duane and Estelle, two teenagers out on a date (Harley Cross and Aimee Graham) who end up hostages of Perdita and Romeo.
This is where the bloat comes in. There is a lot going on. Including human sacrifices, combat flashbacks, robberies, shootouts, multiple rapes, near-misses, fortune telling, and mobsters. Few of which are handled with style (the demonic ritual scenes are pretty good), and none of which are handled with class or dignity.
I’ll mention three little things from this film. If you find any of these interesting or entertaining, then, and I’m sorry to say it, this film is for you.
James Gandolfini, on the way to intercept Romeo he escaped from a botched illegal-fetus-delivery operation, turns to his partner for no reason and says: “What’s red and white and goes 60 miles an hour? A baby in a blender.”
Romeo, robbing a bank at the beginning of the film, despite his partner warning him of the imminent arrival of the police, forces a female teller at gunpoint to open up her top and expose her breasts. Then he snickers and leaves.
After finding out while raping him that Duane has had sex with one other girl, Perdita asks how it was. “I’ll never forget it.” he says, and then the film cuts to a three-second flash flashback of an overweight girl laughing maniacally while straddling Duane on a bed.
I’m no prude and I’m very accepting, even eager, for absurd, graphic and unusual content. But only in context and only if it’s done with some sort of intelligence. This film feels like it was written by a fourteen year old, and I’m guessing only audiences of that mental age will enjoy it.