A fat, schizoid woman meets a penny-ante, bald, vain, grifter lothario and she moves in with him, going so far as to abandon her two children because she “loves” him so much. Either of these two, alone, would have been relatively harmless. The woman would have continued to cluelessly raise her kids, the man would have continued to steal money from lonely women like her. But every once in a while a combination of people is a lot more than the sum of the parts. Sometimes, the result is very bad. A combination of self-obsession, jealousy, and god-knows-what pathology results in serial murders, including the drowning of a little girl because she witnessed the murder of her mother.
This movie is strongly based on the “Lonely Hearts Murderers” of the 1940s, except for being transplanted to Mexico. I have read that the director, Arturo Ripstein, is probably the most respected director in Mexico … by the Mexicans. Apparently few of his movies have crossed the border; I haven’t seen a one of them. If this is a typical example, I’m not too surprised. It is not cheerful. It is quite funny at first, then whipsaws you into horror. The camera moves constantly, but not in a distracting fashion, no jiggling or quick cuts, just enough motion to make you edgy. The color is fantastic, as is the writing and acting. The scenery is as bleak as these people’s minds. There is surely genius at work here, but not a genius that everyone will appreciate. I’d like to see more movies by Ripstein.