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The Delinquents

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Os Delinquentes
DROs Delinquentes

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Nothing is quite what it seems in this woozy and slippery Argentine heist flick

Directed by Argentinian filmmaker Rodrigo Moreno, The Delinquents opens with perhaps the most unspectacular bank robbery in cinema history. Moran (Daniel Elias) has worked for years as a teller in a Buenos Aires bank. One day, he puts $650,000 in a backpack, after having taken a considerable sum from the tills to the vault and safe deposit box, as he has been doing habitually and mechanically for a long time. This banal embezzlement sets the tone for what will happen next, throughout the three hours of The Delinquents, a kinda-thriller in which digression replaces action, and anticlimax replaces suspense.

After robbing the bank, Moran meets his colleague Román (Society of the Snow’s Esteban Bigliardi) in a bar, and makes him a unique proposal, with a backpack full of money at his feet. He will confess to the robbery and turn himself into the police far from Buenos Aires, calculating that, with good behaviour, he will get out of jail three and a half years later (which he prefers to another 20 years in the bank). Román will be in charge of the money, which is enough for both of them to retire on afterwards. And Román can't refuse or denounce Moran, or he’ll say that his colleague was his accomplice. Román has no choice but to hide the money at his flat, which he shares with his girlfriend.

It opens with perhaps the most unspectacular bank robbery in cinema history

An investigation into the robbery is opened, during which an investigator pressures Román but is unable to get anything out of him or prove his involvement; while Moran is forced to pay protection money to prison kingpin Garrincha to live a quiet life inside. It's at this point that Román discovers that his former colleague has more money hidden somewhere in the interior of the country, because he’s the one who has to get it and deposit it into Garrincha’s account.

It's then that The Delinquents begins to take other paths, to move further and further away from the main story, to favour a very soft surrealism and to give slight Borgesian nudges. The names of most of the characters are anagrams of each other (there is, for example, a Norma and a Morna), the actor who plays Moran and Román's boss (Germán De Silva) is the same as Garrincha, and there are also coincidences: Moran and Román unknowingly fall in love with the same woman at different times. And in jail, threats give way to poetry. Rodrigo Moreno also makes references to films by his compatriot Hugo Fregonese and to Robert Bresson, and to a famous Argentinian rocker, which should tell you a lot.

This eccentric drift culminates in an ending that’s sure to perplex – or even annoy – anyone expecting the loose ends to be neatly tied up. But The Delinquents, although it may seem like it at first, is not that kind of movie, and the truth is that its peculiar internal coherence is unassailable. Then again, cinema needs these idiosyncratic films. 

In UK cinemas now.

Written by
Eurico de Barros

Cast and crew

  • Director:Rodrigo Moreno
  • Screenwriter:Rodrigo Moreno
  • Cast:
    • Esteban Bigliardi
    • Daniel Elías
    • Margarita Molfino
    • Germán de Silva
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