Ruination of Men, The

Director: Arturo Ripstein

2000. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby stereo. 106 min.

This absurdist comedy in black and white begins with a peasant being beaten to death by two of his friends. Initially, the reasons for the man’s murder are quite obscure, but the motivations gradually emerge as his friends, his wife and his lover bicker over his corpse. Taking its title from a Mexican song about women being the undoing of men, the film is mounted in four long sequences and plays like a folk tale about the dark humour inherent within marriage, friendship, duplicity, guilt and death. The film’s wicked comedy veers into sheer perverseness when the wife enlists one of her husband’s killers to help her transport the body back home. Recognising her dear departed’s snakeskin boots on the man, she clobbers him with a baseball bat, reclaims the shoes and humiliates him into sucking her toes while her appalled daughter looks on. This is one of Ripstein’s most accomplished and entertaining films, sharply scripted by his regular partner Paz Alicia Garciadiego and gamely performed by a talented cast.
Plus Dog Highway/Perriferico, director Paula Markovitch’s short about a beggar woman who risks her life to save a little dog that’s run down while crossing a motorway. (1999. Colour. 15 min.)

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