A low effort heist could mean freedom or ruination for two plebeian bank workers fed up with the daily grind in this dreamy, entertaining enigma from New Argentine Cinema director Rodrigo Moreno.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
In what might be cinema’s most facile bank robbery of all time, disaffected Morán (Daniel Elías) casually saunters out of the Buenos Aires bank at which he works with enough money to retire twice-over stuffed into his grubby backpack. In a delightful subversion of genre, the caper is a dawdle and getting away with it was never part of the working-class masterplan for The Delinquents’ endearingly mundane criminals.
Making off with 600,000 dollars completely unnoticed by either bank or cops, the newly minted thief recruits fellow workaday rube Román (Esteban Bigliardi) to help safeguard the ill-gotten gains after Morán turns himself in. He’s done the maths and is happy to cash in three-and-a-half years in prison for freedom from white-collar drudgery upon release. That’s provided Román can keep the cash stashed safely and not succumb to the pressure of his own guilt and an unyielding insurance investigator until his partner’s done his time.
The caper rapidly begins to unwind when jailhouse life proves more dire—and expensive—than Morán had bargained for, while Román is tempted to heed the call of Argentina's rustic wilds and the beautiful bohemians who inhabit it. Work sucks, but it’s entirely possible these two drab rascals self-destruct before happening upon a better alternative. Alternating adventurously in tone, the bemusing two-part narrative is anchored by a fascinating cast with consummate comic poise.
At three-hours long, the film moves lightly through its playful parable, musing on the duality of labour and leisure with inscrutable humour and moments of unexpected joy. From the echoed confines of 80s-hued office and prison to the beautifully lensed Córdoba countryside, The Delinquents is a laconic ramble through a beautifully realised world under Moreno’s assured direction. — Adrian Hatwell