“LOS DELINQUENTES”; directed by Rodrigo Moreno | Cannes

Film shown in the non-competition slate Un Certain Regard
Esteban Bigliardi, Margarita Molfino and Mariana Chaud
Directed by Rodrigo Moreno

Inventive, oneirical at times, sometimes absurdly humorous, Argentinian filmmaker Rodrigo Moreno’s “Los Delincuentes” (“The criminals” in the original Spanish) was a pleasure to discover for its originality. Moran, A high-level bank employee comes up with an elaborate plan to divert a bag of cash from his employer. In the commission of his crime he involves another employee, one whose code of ethics is beyond reproach. The film is divided into two acts, the first one is where the crime is committed and the second one is more meditativ and told from the point of view of Roman (Esteban Bigliardi), a straight-laced bank employee who is handed a bag of cash for safekeeping, which places him under great pressure.

This cash will change him, but not because he spends it, his former colleague, now in jail, asked him to keep it for him until he is released from jail, but because it will push him outside his comfort zone. Bigliardi, as Roman, is dumbstruck at first, carried away by the events around him.

During a visit to the countryside to find a hiding place for the cash, he runs into a group of strangers picnicking by the river. Their names (Norma, Morna and Ramon) are an anagram of Moran, the criminal employee (and the bank’s former treasurer), the absurdity of the name situation is funny. Later in the movie, Roman, whose wife is an at-home music teacher, is in the kitchen washing the dishes. One of the students comes into the kitchens and asks for a glass of water. He drinks from it. He asks for another one. And a third one after that. It’s funny, inconsequential and absurd and has no bearing on the film.

Filmmaking is a long-term project. This particular film took especially long, Moreno took five years to complete it, there was a break in the middle as the financing ran out, and then it was back in the saddle again. The second part of the film is more meditative, a lot more time is spent in the countryside whereas the first act was in the city, Buenos Aires.

Moran and Roman are different from one another. Moran, who stole the cash, justifies his crime because he doesn’t want to work another twenty-or-so years, punch in, punch out, be answerable to someone. He figures, three and a half years in jail and then be reunited with his cash is better than what is being perceives as servitude and routine. I’m reminded of the Thoreau phrase, the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Moran wants to avoid this life of quiet desperation, he’s wised up to the system and decided to break out of it with a well-articulated plan. Roman is the innocent bystander but the crime, his involvement in it, opens his eyes. Thoroughly enjoyable!