Background and Foreground: Our Review of ‘The Delinquents’

Posted in Theatrical by - October 27, 2023
Background and Foreground: Our Review of ‘The Delinquents’

Moran (Daniel Elias) shares a drink with his coworker Roman (Esteban Bigliardi), telling him that “we’ll meet again in three and a half years, ok”? Roman agrees with a certain reluctance because of course, this won’t be a regular reunion. Hours beforehand, Moran steals $650 from the Buenos Aires bank where they both work. It’s apparently enough for them to live on for the rest of their lives. Roman knows nothing of the plan, But Moran chooses him to safeguard the money while the latter surrenders himself to the cops for the crime. Bank robbery in Argentina ia crime punishable by seven years in prison.

Moran, however, thinks he can het out for three and a half for good behaviour. Meanwhile, uneventful mornings fill with dread for Roman, counting the days when the cops raid his home to take the money back where it belongs. It doesn’t help that a cop (Laura Paredes) starts snoping around and knows that he did something. Because of this itch, Roman asks Moran what to do, and the latter gives him instructions to stash the money. Roman does what Moran tells him. But along the way, he meets Norma (Margarita Molfino), who becomes his lover without him knowing that she’s also Moran’s lover.

Two things can happen while viewers watch Rodrigo Moreno’s The Delinquents. The first is that they’ll dismiss it for taking its left turns. And the second is that they’ll understand what this anti-heist romance is going for. I’m on both camps. You may have noticed that three of the characters have alliterative names, and joining them are two more, Ramon and Morna. The film doesn’t really explain why these characters have their names. This is one of a few things that exist within the film without apparent reason. Arbirary elements don’t make films better.

But by pushing the bank heist plot point into the background, I may understand what The Delinquents is going for. The film eventually contrasts Roman’s purgatorial existence while waiting for the three and a half years to pass with flashbacks showing Moran’s idyllic life with Norma. Most crime films feel cyclical but this one tries to free itself from that. Dividing itself into two parts, title cards and all, the second part is basically a fever dream. It gives him and the viewers a victimless act and the peaceful results thereafter.

Life, as The Delinquents shows, can either be stifling like Roman’s or boring like Moran’s. Both destroy their lives and maybe pay for their crimes but not in the way most characters in crime films do. Yes, the editing reinforces the film’s interpretation of a soft fever dream. And yes, this is one of the few rare case of a film that is, case by case, too long. I can pinpoint the fat within its three hour running time. But there’s something viewers can appreciate about a film that does things differently, One showing us a different approach to how life surprises, or lack thereof.

The Delinquents starts playing in theatres today and is coming soon on MUBI.

This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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