DANCE WITH THE DEVIL
Wild at Heart was a psychotically fractured road movie where Lynch kept pushing into disturbed mental spaces in ways that were genuinely startling. Perdita Durango is similarly construed as a road movie featuring two outlaw lovers on the run from various killers (including the character of Marcelo Santos from Wild at Heart). Perdita Durango is in many ways a far more dangerous film than Wild at Heart was. In Wild at Heart, Sailor and Lulu were essentially good kids who had traveled onto the wrong side of the tracks trying to find love in a deranged world stacked against them. Here Perdita Durango and Romeo Delarosa are two similar lovers but they are steeped in evil one is a bank robber, both are cold-blooded murderers. Romeo at one point conducts a human sacrifice and eats the victims heart in a Santeria ceremony. Both also kidnap and forcibly rape a young white teenage couple with the intention of using them as human sacrifices and Romeo later tries to sell the girl into prostitution to a pimp to pay off a debt.
Perdita Durango is a splendidly irresponsible film. There is a genuine blast of anarchic splendour and malice to Alex de la Iglesias direction. The film is like a sarcastic stab up against all that is wholesomely middle-class Harley Cross and Aimee Graham (Heathers sister) give hilarious performances as the whitebread kids with some hysterical scenes like where Cross tries to offer white guilt apologies for the mistreatment of Mexicans or where the two of them start nominating the other to be chosen for sacrifice. There is a sense of danger and outrage that can explode at any moment like the scene that comes out of nowhere where on impulse the couple kidnap the teenagers at gunpoint in a crowded El Paso street. It is a film that embraces the darkest, most sardonic worldview one has seen in some time it sees that the whole world, law enforcement and criminals alike, as corrupt, inept or self-interested and that the only honesty is a primal strength and ferocity of doing whatever you like and at least being honest to ones self.
The point that should be made is that where in any other film they would have them painted in the blackest terms possible, Perdita and Romeo are an appealing couple. Perdita is played by Rosie Perez, a Latin American actress, best remembered for playing hot-tempered Latino hellcats in films like Do the Right Thing (1989) and White Men Cant Jump (1992). Here, despite affecting a cynical sneer, she seems subdued. It could well be that she is dominated by the sheer alpha male magnetism of Spanish actor Javier Bardems performance, which carries the whole film with its effortless likeability. Indeed, Javier Bardem dominates the film so much it should have been called Romeo Delarosa rather than Perdita Durango.
Director Alex de la Iglesia has made a number of other genre films with the gonzo science-fiction comedy Accion Mutante (1993), the End Times comedy The Day of the Beast (1995), the genre black comedies Common Wealth (2000) and Ferpect Crime (2004), the ghost story Films to Keep You Awake: The Babys Room (2006), the mathematical murder mystery The Oxford Murders (2008), the sf tv series Pluton B.R.B. Nero (2008-9), the circus psycho-thriller A Sad Trumpet Ballad (2010), As Luck Would Have It (2011), a satire on the modern media, the comedy Witching and Bitching (2013), and The Bar (2017) with a group of strangers trapped inside a bar.