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Deep Crimson Review

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The life of a man who preys on unsuspecting women for a living is changed when he finds an accomplice in the woman who loves and controls him

★★★★★

In 1951, hefty nurse Martha Beck and sleazoid gigolo Raymond Fernandez went to the electric chair in the USA, convicted of the murders of several women they had targeted for extortion. In 1969, their story became The Honeymoon Killers, an edgy, black-and-white cult movie directed by Leonard Kastle, after Martin Scorsese was dismissed.

Now, leading Mexican director Arturo Ripstein has reset the case in his home country, and made a more romantic, though no less disturbing version. Coral Fabre (Orozco) is a widow seething with romantic desire, who gets stuck on Nicolas Estrella (Cache), a fake-Spanish con man who preys on susceptible lonely hearts and has demented spells if his toupee is disturbed.

After Nicolas has serviced, robbed and abandoned Coral, she offers herself as partner in crime. Together, they set out to bilk a succession of women, but their love and touchy spots eventually lead them to murder. This is a rare movie about a love that is at once true and all-powering (Nicolas even claims to adore Coral's bad breath and stops her eating breath-sweeteners) and hideous.

Like The Honeymoon Killers, it treads a line between the freakish and the moving, getting past the characters' physical grotesquery’s to understand their genuine feelings. But this is a love that leads to acts so appalling (you'll never forget the implications of a wet bathroom floor) that it's hard not to feel these people deserve to be shot down like dogs.

It's not a comfortable watch, but it is a compelling one.