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Revenge of the Sylph in Juan Carlos Falcón’s La Caja (2006) October 8, 2008

Posted by Richard Bolisay in European Films, Spanish Filmfest.
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English Title: The Wooden Box
Written and directed by Juan Carlos Falcón
Cast: Angela Molina, Antonio San Juan, Elvira Minguez, Vladimir Cruz

La Caja delivers a triumph of the offscreen. A man dies. His wife has no place to lay him before the funeral next morning because the stairs is too narrow for the corpse to pass. The neighbor agrees – – with such pronounced reluctance – – and lets the body be placed on her bed before the coffin arrives in the afternoon. Unknown to the widow, her husband’s death is everything that the townspeople are hoping for. They have renewed their prayers to settle uneven scores and get back the best they could, especially now that revenge is hell sweeter when your opponent is not an inch moving in his place. A pestle in his ass thrust in rewarding sadism, a cut tongue for squealing the ends of sanity of a young child, the tongue gobbled with enthusiasm by the pet cat, a shower of shit on his face while everyone is asleep, and a mop to clean it away in such force that I assume his face turned into a lunar spot. Another neighbor wants to take advantage of his savings through his clueless widow. Even the priest who officiates the procession has his share of butchering traits to boast, smoking, gambling, shortcut blessings. The wife, in the end, finds solace in another man’s arms, kissing not under the mistletoe but over his sloppy, slipshod grave – – certainly the most peaceful place a dishonored man like him could ever be in.

Falcon knows how to massively slaughter the dead in all the smallest alleys of his life. As the story slowly peels to reveal dark pasts between the neighbors and the dead, it dawns on us the orgasmic relief of getting even on their part, in the grisliest way possible, because it will put all their inhibitions away from memory. In a way it’s also a relief for us – – Falcon’s pulse for dialogue, the actors’ perfect timing, the distinct incredulity of the events, not to mention the seamless editing and photography contribute to put the circus in awesome disarray. The film becomes a sinful experience. Cinema harbors not only that idea of escape but also of humanizing evil by showing it guiltlessly, that crime does pay in countless ways, that karma can extend its rays even in the farthest end of light. Under such spell of modern evil, I must say this is irreverence at its wicked best.

*Película Pelikula: 7th Spanish Film Festival, October 1 – 12, Greenbelt 3 Cinema 1

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