Film Review

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An image from Common Wealth
Common Wealth 3 out of 4


The straight man's Pedro Almodóvar, Álex de la Iglesia has enjoyed tremendous success in his native Spain for over a decade, but it's not until now that U.S. audiences are getting a chance to see the director's crowd-pleasing genre pastiches. Drenched in all sorts of pop-cultural references, La Comunidad (Common Wealth) is by far Iglesia's most enjoyable film to date. A deliriously insane study of human greed, the film begins with a giddy title sequence that in many ways anticipates the opening of Almodóvar's Bad Education (Iglesia's film was released in Spain four years ago). Carmen Maura is Julia, a real estate agent trying to sell an apartment in a building infested by a community of oddballs who've waited many years for an old man to die so they can steal a hidden stash of money. When the woman stumbles upon the 300 million pesetas (she's led to the location of the treasure by—get this—a Mr. Clean commercial), Iglesia fashions a frenzied comedy of errors out of Julia's repeated attempts to get out of the building alive. When Julia jumps on a waterbed with her husband inside the apartment she's trying to unload, she's spotted across the way by a mysterious presence. The binocular-vision and heavy breathing suggests a pervert is on the loose, but the peeping tom is hysterically revealed to be a man dressed as Darth Vader (!) and still living at home with his mother (!!). Iglesia updates the persecution complex and Holocaust allegory of Polanski's The Tenant as a nerd empowerment ritual, a pop anthem bursting at the seams with gut-busting non sequiturs (see the boy dressed in the super hero outfit, who doesn't bat an eye when the man in the elevator is cut in half), endlessly inventive set pieces (none greater than the tenants' attempt to lure Julia and her suitcase filled with cash away from two police officers and back into "her" apartment), and over-the-top performances. The actors are all insane, none more so than Maura, whose rapid-paced delivery points to the sad desperation that seethes beneath the film's comic surface.

Director(s): Álex de la Iglesia Screenwriter(s): Jorge Guerricaechevarría, Álex de la Iglesia Cast: Carmen Maura, Eduardo Antuña, María Asquerino, Jesús Bonilla, Marta Fernández Muro, Paca Gabaldón, Ane Gabarain, Sancho Gracia, Emilio Gutiérrez Caba, Kiti Manver, Terele Pávez, Roberto Perdomo, Manuel Tejada, Enrique Villén Distributor: Ventura Entertainment Runtime: 113 min Rating: NR Year: 2000

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