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Álex de la Iglesia
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Álex de la Iglesia
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Rough girl Perdita and her demonic lover Romeo Dolorosa need humans to sacrifice following Romeo's religion before he can go on a mission ordered by mob boss Santos. They kidnap teen sweethearts Duane and Estelle and travel with them to Las-Vegas. Written by
The character of Perdita Durango appeared in Wild at Heart (1990) by 'Lynch, David', also based in a novel by Barry Gifford, and was played by Isabella Rosselini. See more »
Shadow of the dolly and cameraman during the scene in the airplane junkyard. See more »
[Perdita to Estelle, while Estelle holds a gun to her, threatening to shoot]
If you really wanna do something, you just do it. But you don't think about it. That's the difference between you and me.
[Estelle gives Perdita the gun. Perdita then knocks Estelle to the ground and makes her kiss her foot]
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one of the sickest, funniest B-movies of the 90s, which transcends any limitations through a truly wild sensibility
Alex de la Iglesias seems to tap so well into Barry Gifford's material that he almost gives David Lynch, who's worked with the man twice (including on the script for near-masterpiece Lost Highway, also released in 1997), a run for his surrealistic-road-movie money. Perdita Durango, aka Dance with the Devil, is a firecracker of a thriller, loaded with so much (controlled) insanity, skillful and even artistically driven film-making, and a dynamite cast, that it threatens to burn off the screen and rape all of our children while it does Santeria in our living rooms. On the surface it's just a, well, crazy exploitation movie premise: two bad-asses, one a big dude with a Mexican mullet and a history of mystical ties to ritual dancing and sacrifices (Romeo), another a long-haired, curvy lover-cum-killer with a tough front and a jealous heart ( Perdita Durango) are on their way to bring a truck full of frozen embryos across the border, with a kidnapped "gringo" couple in tow.
But within that surface there's a lot going on. Not that the film goes into the art-house sect like Wild at Heart, but it digs into the meat of its premise and the danger at every turn for all of the characters. The hand of fate slips in probably just as much, if not more-so, than the other infamous Bardem picture No Country for Old Men. At the drop of a hat a character can get run over by a car (sometimes, in the case of Gandolfini's hilariously hammy-pig DEA agent Woody Dumas, more than once), or a score that was scorned can come back to haunt another characters, or dancing out of some old tribal instinct in the middle of a club. It's an absurdist view of material that is on the one hand deranged and funny because of the random outrageousness of the violence, but on the other hand much more well-done because Iglesias doesn't stoop to poor craftsmanship. This is B-movie-making for people who like good, strong, lean direction that can take some detours that don't leave the audience too much in the dust.
On second thought, that last point could be contested. I could imagine somebody watching Perdita Durango and not liking it at all, being just completely put off by the violence and (usually) sadistic host of characters, and how it doesn't seem to connect most times with a real sense of reality (as my friend pointed out watching it, early on the film seems to resemble a kind of film vomit, loaded with colors and scenes and bits thrown together). But it's a fair assessment. For those who know what they're getting, they need look no further than the cover, which has Perez &/or Bardem looking like they're right out of a pulp fiction book, with her holding a gun and him with his crazed eyes. If you do give it a chance, however, it does provide more than the expectations for your usual road movie. And the cast is a huge part of this. Aside from Bardem's presence, there's also Perez, who is in one of her very best turns as the title character, as rough as an outlaw but vulnerable. And then there's Gandolfini, great supporting moments from Cox, Hawkins (yes, Screaming Jay), and even the kids playing the kidnapped gringos, making the most of an at-best two-dimensional playing field.
The violence is savage, the theatrics go between over the top and startlingly convincing, and the sex is hot and dangerous as possible. Perdita Durango is so good you can smell the sweat pouring off the characters's heads.
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