Review: Crime Wave

Inappropriate outbursts of laughter, hands thrown over mouths in disbelief and many, many cringes. That is how you will find yourself, repeatedly, watching Crime Wave (Ola de crimenes). Screening as part of the 2019 Spanish Film Festival, Crime Wave is a dark comedy of epic proportions.

Director Gracia Querejeta designs a pendulum plot that swings in and out of complete absurdity. Following Leyre’s (Maribel Verdú) risqué attempts to cover up her ex-husband’s murder and spare her son the consequences which she relays extensively to a priest in confessional, twists and turns are a many. From death-by-high-heel to the most audacious of grandmothers, the story leaves the Father stricken in his church.

Querejeta is a Spanish director best known for her films Siete mesas de billar francés (2007), By My Side Again (1999) and Héctor (2004). For Crime Wave she has pulled together a stellar cast, including Maribel Verdú, Antonio Resines, Luis Tosar, Juana Acosta, Paula Echevarría. Her leading lady Verdú is known to English speaking audiences for her performance as Luisa in Y tu mamá también (2001) and Mercedes in Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar winner Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). In Spain, she is recognised for her parts in Belle Époque, Tetro, and Huevos de oro.

Asier Rikarte also gives an amusing performance as Leyre’s son, Asier, an unaffected, off-beat teen misfit. His awkward shrugs and lopsided smile lend to his bizarre nonchalance towards his family and friend’s ludicrous antics that appear time and time again throughout the film. One of these comical storylines involves many nauseating encounters between his mother and best friend, Julen (Miguel Bernardeau). Bernardeau executes Julen’s sickening infatuation with Leyre with enough boyish charisma to offset the crassness of his storyline, however a squeamishness still lingers.

Leyre flits back and forth between a concerned, if desperate, mother and a hysterical, lewd woman. Her encounters with her rivals – the police, her husband’s ex-wife – and many other random interactions become increasingly shocking as her sensibility deteriorates. Accompanied by a flirtatious, buoyant soundtrack composed by Federico Jusid, the film’s comedic value presents itself largely in its flowering flavour of lunacy. Although not entirely witty, the fast paced dialogue works to highlight the characters’ most indecent selves and makes for a very laughable film. With its own indelicate, punchy charm, Crime Wave is 95 minutes of foolish entertainment.

Crime Wave is screening as part of the 2019 Spanish Film Festival at Palace Cinemas from April 18 – May 8.

Erin Anderson

The author Erin Anderson

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