Even by the standards of my irregular postings on this thread, it’s been an age since my last addition. Regardless, I’ve every intention of finishing this list and after realizing I’ve allowed a glut of Spanish films to accumulate on my draft list, I’ll be sprinkling these among my last dozen selections and will start with this one.
39) La Comunidad (Common Wealth) - Spain
Outside of his homeland, whatever level of recognition Álex De La Iglesía has enjoyed is probably for his eponymous documentary feature on Lionel Messi. That belies his status as a creator of often quirky black comedies. His particular mix of mayhem, murder and mirth may not be to the liking of all but this farcical romp would arguably have the widest appeal among those in his back catalogue.
Julia Garcia (played by the iconic Carmen Maura, who will be a familiar face to fans of Almodóvar) moves into a grotty Madrid apartment block with her husband. An attempt to reinject some passion into their maudlin marriage is interrupted when an avalanche of cockroaches cascades down from the apartment above onto their bed. It transpires that the unwelcome visitors had been feasting on the rotting corpse of the elderly man upstairs and there’s an even bigger surprise in store when curiosity gets the better of Julia and she creeps into the apartment for a nose around.
While it could be said that what follows adheres pretty rigidly to the standard dark humour template of making light of the worst of human behaviour, the pacing, tension and some fine acting, particularly from Maura, make for compulsive if at times absurd viewing.
As an aside, the title this was given in English is a rare example of an incongruous appellation resulting from a translation from Spanish to English - the straight transcription of ‘The Community’ would have been fine. The phenomenon of film titles in English being given plot spoiling or just utterly bizarre names in Spanish is near legendary at this stage, among the most memorable being “The Glass Jungle” (Die Hard), “I’m in Love with My Ex” (It’s Complicated), “I Want To Kill My Boss” (Horrible Bosses) and “An Unexpected Ending” (Thelma and Louise). Let’s just be grateful the same bloke wasn’t let do likewise with The Usual Suspects or The Sixth Sense.