Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia's blacker-than-black comedy about life at the shallow end of the pool is etched with acid, marinated in cynicism and photographed in the vivid colors favored by de la Iglesia's mentor, Pedro Almodovar. Rafael Gonzales (Guillermo Toledo) was born to rule chichi Madrid department store Yeyo's literally born to do it. His mother went into labor in the accessories department while buying a handbag. Now an unapologetic rake with a taste for the finer things in life, Rafael sees himself as nothing more than an "elegant man who wants to live in an elegant world." But reality fails to match his deluxe ideals; the handsome suits in which he cuts such a dashing figure belong to the store, and his apartment is a spartan dump. Until he can afford the luxuries he wants, Rafael would rather have nothing at all. Yeyo's is his real home, a perfumed pleasure dome filled with high-end goods, gourmet foods and beautiful, perfectly groomed women always ready for a clandestine after-hours romp. Rafael's philosophy is simple: Figure out what you want and grab it. And what Rafael wants is the coveted position of floor manager. Rafael's only competition is archrival Antonio Fraguas (Luis Varela), who dominates the men's wear department as effortlessly as Rafael presides over women's. Rafael looks like a shoe-in, but Antonio gets the gig and makes it clear he's not going to be a gracious winner his first act as manager is to assign Rafael the humiliating task of hauling mannequins to the basement, and his second is to promise him a demotion to the big-and-tall shop. Harsh words become a scuffle, the scuffle escalates into a brawl and Antonio winds up accidentally impaled on a changing-room coat hook. Rafael impulsively decides to burn the body in the basement furnace, but it vanishes behind his back courtesy of "guardian angel" Lourdes (Mónica Cervera), the homely girl who's been nursing a crush on Rafael for 10 years, during which time he's barely acknowledged her existence. Lourdes uses her newfound hold over Rafael to realize her perfect life, one in which he's her devoted love slave and Yeyo's dazzling salesgirls are replaced by fellow plain janes. Rafael's mind quickly begins to unravel under the onslaught of Lourdes' grotesquely bad taste and cloying sexual demands. De la Iglesia is a less generous filmmaker than Almodovar, but he's just as sharp, and this biting farce remains true to its dyspeptic vision of human nature to the bitter and it is truly bitter end. (In Spanish, with subtitles)
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: NR
- Review: Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia's blacker-than-black comedy about life at the shallow end of the pool is etched with acid, marinated in cynicism and photographed in the vivid colors favored by de la Iglesia's mentor, Pedro Almodovar. Rafael Gonzales (G… (more)