This black-humored crime drama is another film from the Mexican phase of the famous Spanish filmmaker Luis Bunuel, who made as many as 21 films there in his 18-year period. Some films he has made in Mexico, such as “Lols olvidados” or “El”, are among his best, and some, such as the long-forgotten American film “The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz”, may not be of that class, but they are certainly worthy of attention. In Mexico, Bunuel, who was more of an avant-garde and experimental filmmaker in his native Spain, became a true filmmaker, but some absurdities, pathological instincts and petty provocations crept through perhaps his most prolific period.
Even pathological sexual urges are dealt with by Bunuel in this dark comedy, about a weird and deranged rich guy who obsessively wants to commit perfect murder (perfect in the sense that no one will ever know he’s the killer). Archibaldo de la Cruz (Ernesto Alonso) is a wealthy man who grew up in a privileged, respectable family during the Mexican Revolution, and his life was determined by an event he witnessed as a child. During the riots in the city, a stray bullet hit his nanny and she died before his eyes, and the young Archibaldo will remain convinced that he killed the nanny and he decided then that he would continue to kill. Then we meet Archibald as an adult man, a rich bon vivant who still has that obsessive and absurd urge to kill someone.
So throughout the film he tries to find the perfect victim and is constantly convinced that he has a perfect plan, but there is always something interrupting him before the act is performed. It all seems completely absurd and it is clear to us that by any chance he succeeds in his plan to be far from perfect murder. Archibaldo says at one point that he feels like a criminal and a saint at the same time, and just as full of contrast is the whole film. At the same time, Bunuel combines a rather violent film that almost parodies similar films about serial killers with a dark, brutal comedy about a man who has completely lost his temper in his insane obsessions and longings. Rating 8/10.
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