Film Review

The Delinquents

todayJanuary 11, 2024 34

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By – Gareth Jones

For fans of slow bank robbery films, philosophical life questioning films, Argentinian cinema

The Delinquents is Rodrigo Moreno’s seventh feature film and it is one of the most accomplished, confident films I have seen in some time.  He is part of an incredible group of filmmakers from Argentina making challenging and important cinema.  This film asks the audience to have patience, but the audience is generously rewarded for this patience with an emotional, thought-provoking experience.

The film is three hours and nine minutes long, and all of it is valuable as it gives us an opportunity to live with the characters.  It tells the story of Moran, a mid-level bank employee who has come up with a plan to rob the bank.  He plans to steal the money, give it to a colleague, turn himself in to the authorities, serve a short prison sentence, leave prison to retrieve the stolen funds, retire to the countryside, never to work again.  This story is greatly relatable to anyone who has worked in any number of mind-numbing jobs that are unfulfilling, with the only hope of retirement after a lifetime of dream-destroying labor.

Of course, nothing works exactly to the plan.  One of the most innovative aspects of the narrative is how we are asked to relate to this character right from the start but then we transition to the colleague at the bank, Roman (check the names for one of the overarching themes of the film).  He has been given the opportunity to get half the stolen money if he simply hides the money in the countryside. Roman appears to have a better life with a wife and child, but Moreno shows us how once the idea of change is implanted in his mind he begins to question his life.

The complexity of the plot is enhanced by the use of flashbacks.  The major complication of Moran’s plan is that both men meant a woman, Norma, and her sister Morna (the names again) who changes the trajectory of both.  She is a magical, free spirit living the life that they want to live.  She is played perfectly by Magarita Molfino, who brings an exuberance and passion to the role.  Both lead actors, Daniel Elias as Moran and Estaban Bigliardi as Roman are fantastic. We connect to them immediately.

There are other characters with doubles in the film, and that is part of the pleasure of viewing the film, putting together the cleverly placed pieces of the philosophical puzzle.  All along the way, the cinematography by Alejo Maglio captures the duality of Argentina, especially the contrasts between city and country.

I am eager to watch the film again to see all of the clues that are placed throughout.  It is a long film, but it is so rewarding.  The cinema of Argentina is having an incredible moment and I plan to keep an eye out for future films from Moreno and his colleagues making such artistic treasures.

Available to stream on MUBI

Written by: jamric

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