Some country in Central America on the verge of some coup d'état or
other, you know the kind:
A Talmudic rabbi is killed in a hotel, and everything points to a
jewelry heist gone wrong, because a rich jeweller is staying just next
door - but much to the dismay of his superior, Commissioner Treviranus
(Miguel Sandoval), investigating detective Lonnrot (Peter Boyle) dismisses
the idea and looks for a "more rabbinic explanation", trying to
solve the whole thing with the help of the Talmud, the Kabbalah, the last
name of God, and building it up to a big conspiracy - and the only one who
seems to support his theories is the journalist and Talmudic scholar Zunz
Soon, a second murder is committed, the crook turned politician
Azevedo, and this time everything points to super-criminal Red Scharlach,
who has a personal grudge against Lonnrot after he killed Scharlach's
brother. However, Lonnrot dismisses the idea of Red Scharlach's
involvement and soon finds more evidence to link the murder to his
kabballistic conspiracy theory.
Then a man disappears from a run-down hotel in the seedy part of town,
and once again it seems to fit in with Lonnrot's theory - he thinks the
missing man will be used as human sacrifice -, even though there is little
evidence that the missing person actually even existed in the first place.
Eventually a fortune teller (Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez) shows up in
Lonnrot's office, opening his eyes to the geometric aspect of the three
murders ... and soon enough, Lonnrot has figured out when and where the
next murder will be committed - in an abandoned mansion in the middle of
nowhere -, and he rushes there to prevent it, accompanied only by
journalist Zunz. But once in the mansion, he finds nothing - until Zunz
reveals himself to be Red Scharlach, who had made up the whole kabbalistic
conspiracy - after the first murder was already committed by someone else
- only to lure Lonnrot to him and to have his revenge on his own turf ...
and yes, ultimately Red Scharlach and his gang shoot Lonnrot, who has
fallen prey to his own preposterous intellect that couldn't accept the
death of a rabbi as the thing it was - a jewelry heist gone wrong ...
A fascinating and darkly humourous murder mystery that makes clever use
of all kinds of elaborate conspiracy theories only to completely dismiss
them at the end. Director Alex Cox brings the story to life quite
beautifully by placing it in a fleshed-out parallel world on the brink of
revolution the characters seem to be weirdly unaware of - a world he
catches in long shots with a fluidly moving camera and in which the lead
characters quite comicbook-like are always dressed in primary colours - and as a matter of fact, most actors even look a little bit like their
own caricatures in the first place. An in this parallel world of his,
director Cox effortlessly mixes the
story of highly acclaimed writer Jorge Luis Borges it is based on with
pulp elements as if they belonged to each other.
This all leads to a weird and quite unique piece of crime cinema that
is highly recommended !!!