Thoughtfully Dark Comedy of Exceptional Quality...
Kim Anehall | Chicago, IL USA | 06/05/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Money often causes people to daydream of things they wish for while an increasing size of fortune creates a pattern where dreams become more extravagant. Fancy desire of cars, mansions, and other luxurious commodities first seems far-fetched and unreal, but when an opportunity arrives, many would do next to anything to obtain these dreams. The actions generated by lofty wishes of material things or the opportunity of fiscal freedom could push a person to commit the most vile of acts, as their greed urges them on. Often the mirage of wealth blinds those who pursue dreams at any costs, as moral judgment and humanity evaporate into nothingness. This phenomenon receives a thorough satirical dissection in the Spanish film, Common Wealth.
Álex de la Iglesia opens Common Wealth in a similar atmosphere to his older films such as Mutant Action (1993) and the Day of the Beast (1995). A Siamese cat climbs the windowsill while entering a top floor apartment. The apartment rests in filth and dirt that drifts in knee-deep water, which is explored through the camera that pans with the cat's movements. Eventually a macabre discovery reveals itself, as the cat climbs on top a body that is far into the decomposing state and heavily affected by the murky water. Partially chewed fingertips, a result of the cat's starvation, and a mummified body leave an unforgettable imprint in the mind. The horror within this room triggers the notion - why and what has happened here?
Unknowingly, Julia (Carmen Maura), a middle-aged real estate agent, tries to rent out the apartment underneath the flooded apartment. Initially, the old apartment building gives the impression of being in very poor condition, but the apartment, which she tries to rent out, has all of the modern luxuries and comforts including Italian leather couches. Despite, the comfort within the apartment most people are discouraged by the price or the lack of parking. Julia who does not find any renter the first day decides to spend the night there with her husband. Together they discover that apartment suffers from a cockroach infestation and has a severe water leak, which will make it even harder for her to rent or sell the place. If this would not be enough to make her life more difficult, Julia must lie to the occupants of the other apartments in the building that she is living in the apartment, as she is staying in a residence that is not hers.
The clever setup by Iglesia where Julia eventually calls the fire department in regards to the water leak introduces several peculiar characters including a heavy breathing Darth Vader character among the snooping neighbors. Through the help of the fire department Julia and one of the neighbors, Domínguez (Enrique Villén), enter the filthy and stinking apartment. Domínguez gives the feeling of being slightly mad when Julia finds him, as he is digging through the garbage in the search of something while singing a pirate tune. After the paramedic's removal of the dead body, Julia finds the lost wallet of the deceased. In the wallet, she comes across what first seems like a crossword puzzle, but ultimately she pieces together the clues of the pirate tune and the map. The map takes her back to the reeking residence above where she finds an enormous fortune that generates an emotional turmoil within her, as she begins to dream of the possibilities that the money could grant her.
Common Wealth travels on a bizarre and offbeat path where humor and the darkness of greed overcome all the characters in the film. Iglesia exhibits the greed through overt interaction between the characters and the dialogue, but he also uses several visual analogies of greed. Some of the symbolism appears though the cockroaches on the waterbed and the fear of bereavement in regards to the wealth, which the mise-en-scene shrewdly displays through several secrets, the heavy use of locks, and peepholes. It is in this fear where the story's true humor emerges, as all characters lose themselves to the blindness of greed, which in the end brings about a thoughtfully dark comedy of exceptional quality."
Very Entertaining Dark Comedy
Kardius | USA | 04/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You can read the plot synopsis provided by Amazon. What I want to add is that "La comunidad" is an extremely amusing dark comedy which skillfully sends up the conventions of horror movies while addressing the social conditions of Spaniards as the country becomes part of the European Union. (This, of course, is not explicitly stated, since its a comedy.) Star Carmen Maura (best known for her work with director Pedro Almodovar in the 1980s) is as great as ever. As she mentions in the making-of featurette, she excels at the film's type of surreal humor. I saw this film with a group of Americans and they all seemed to enjoy it, even though Alex de la Iglesia's dark humor is clearly not for everyone. However, some of the best jokes (passing references and visual gags) were lost to those unfamiliar with Spain, its history and popular culture.
The DVD has a "making of" featurette thats pretty fluffy, not much insight, just everyone praising one another. However, be sure to check out "Mirindas asesinas", the short film by Alex de la Iglesia also included on the DVD."
Alejandro A. Rodriguez | 01/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"carmen maura, without a doubt one of the best actresses of our times gives as amazing performance. this role earned her a goya award in spain(oscar) for best actress. the movie is funny and very almodovaresque with all its colorfull characters. a must see."
A brilliant european film
Marmorosblanc | Manchester, CT USA | 05/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If I hadn't been living in the US for quite a while now, I would have been puzzled by some American reviewers complaining about this movie as snail-paced, boring, predictable, etc. But that's right, fellas, don't waste your time with such superb, intricate, still very amusing European efforts. Stick with those unforgetable, all time classics such as Top Gun, Rambo, Lethal Weapon or the likes. They suit you."