Starring: Carmen Maura, Emilio Gutiérrez Caba, Terele Pávez
Director: Álex de la Iglesia
Running Time: 110 mins
Common Wealth (La comunidad) is a Spanish film about a real estate agent who, after settling herself into an unoccupied apartment, finds a hidden fortune in the flat of a deceased neighbour. However, when word gets out about her discovery, the rest of the apartment block become obsessed with getting their hands on the fortune, no matter what.
There are few filmmakers in the world that make such deliciously dark comedy-thrillers like Álex de la Iglesia, and while Common Wealth isn’t quite his most spectacular work of all, it’s covered from head to toe in all the classic hallmarks of the director. A rapid-paced, chaotic and consistently hilarious watch, Common Wealth takes a dive into looking at the most depraved extents of human greed, sending a supposedly normal community insane over nothing more than some bin bags full of banknotes.
Much like the director’s other hits, The Perfect Crime and The Bar, Common Wealth’s core theme is all about the raw, animalistic elements of human greed, as well as the presence of a ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality even in the modern day. But, as depressing as that may sound, it’s a riveting idea that’s brought to life with such energy and glee throughout, turning a deeply upsetting spectacle of humanity at its most pathetic into a raucously entertaining watch.
Following a presentable but self-centred real estate agent who decides to set herself up in someone else’s unoccupied apartment, the film is unsettling and dark from the start, but as we begin to see the first seeds of greed and sheer egocentrism show, the tension and pace begins to ramp up, whipping the entire film into a frenzy within the first act.
And with that, the rollercoaster gets underway in spectacular fashion, with the fallout and neighbourly suspicion that bursts into life after the woman’s discovery finding itself taken to extreme lengths, and the ensuing chaos makes for an immensely enjoyable watch.
Not only does the film move at lightning pace and with a gleeful eye for the darkest twists and turns, but thanks to de la Iglesia’s brilliantly theatrical style of directing, as well as a cast that’s full of both hilarious and exciting talent, Common Wealth is an absolute riot to watch, filled with laughs and vibrant, hugely entertaining thrills and spills throughout.
It’s a colourful watch both when it comes to visuals and the rather spicy dialogue, but with brilliant performances from the likes of Carmen Maura, Terele Pávez and a whole host more, Common Wealth is a movie that had me grinning and laughing like a madman on a fantastically consistent basis, bringing a legendary fun factor that makes the frenzy of action and chaos all the more deliriously enjoyable.
As much fun as the film is at times – and there are some real rollercoaster moments throughout – I will still admit that Common Wealth doesn’t quite hit home in the same striking fashion as de la Iglesia’s best works, particularly his later film, The Perfect Crime.
The Perfect Crime had the same deliciously dark atmosphere filled with ridiculous thrills and spills throughout, but it brought far more emotional complexity to the table when talking about its main themes of greed and egocentrism, particularly as we see a man who thinks he’s on top of the world brought crashing down to earth in the most spectacular fashion.
Common Wealth doesn’t have that same complex, layered emotional depth, and while it’s clear as day what the film is trying to say with its story, there are times when it all feels a little bit one-track, as if there isn’t all that much more at play other than watching all the neighbours of one apartment block frantically try to get their hands on a bag of money.
As a result, as much fun as the film is, it’s not quite as endlessly engrossing as I would have liked to see. That doesn’t mean it’s not still an entertaining watch, and with great performances, vibrant directing, breathless pacing and an exciting and striking appetite for dark humour, Common Wealth is a great watch regardless, which is why I’m giving it a 7.5 overall.