THE STORY – Morán works as a clerk in a bank in Buenos Aires. He is as good as invisible to his colleagues. Over dinner with his colleague Román, Morán tells him that he stole exactly $650,000, which is exactly double what he would have made until his retirement. He plans to turn himself in, but not before offering Román to split the money if agrees to hide it for the duration of his incarceration.
THE CAST – Esteban Bigliardi, Daniel Elias & Margarita Molfino
THE TEAM – Rodrigo Moreno (Director/Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 180 Minutes
Taking a classic genre and turning it on its head, Argentinian filmmaker Rodrigo Moreno’s “The Delinquents” (Los Delincuentes) is a slow, existential heist film that plays with narrative structure, boasts stunning cinematography and contains an interesting premise that gets a bit bogged down by its bloated runtime. Despite a few faults, the film held a decent amount of buzz at the 76th Cannes Film Festival, where it premiered to a worldwide audience. What starts as a conventional heist film in its first half shifts in the second act to something entirely different, likely dividing audiences.
Moreno takes 180 minutes to dive into the lives of two friends and fellow employees of a dank, uneventful Buenos Aires bank, seemingly stuck back in time. Morán (Daniel Elías) and Román (Esteban Bigliardi) lead uninteresting lives, stuck on autopilot and the trap that is the typical 9-5 pm work life. Every day is the same, as they work at an establishment where people begin in their youth, blink, and suddenly decades have passed. In realizing this, Morán decides to make a rash decision to steal a large sum of money from the safe at his bank ($650,000 to be exact), fully prepared to suffer the consequences of going to jail. After stuffing a backpack to the brim with wads of cash, he casually meets his friend Román one evening, then exposes his actions to his friend over a drink. Morán claims that 3.5 years in prison will be well worth being able to live out the rest of their lives with this stolen money. He explains that he’s happy to split it with his friend, but he needs Román to do one thing: hide the money and keep it safe until his prison sentence is up. Thus begins the intriguing yet pokey tale of these co-conspirators, taking a look into their mindsets and day-to-day happenings after their joint felony.
“The Delinquents” contains a few solid and impressive performances, as Elías and Bigliardi do their best to captivate an audience and hold their attention, succeeding for a good portion of the time. Once free from the clutches of their mundane bank job and musty environment, the backdrops shift to stunning rolling desert hills and babbling creeks occupied by lazy smokers who know how to enjoy their day. Together they contemplate life, ponder mysteries of the universe, and through run-ins with a plethora of other characters, good and bad, the men’s eyes are opened to the reality of what their lives have been, are, and the potential and possibility of what they could be. A sort-of love triangle ensues, and matters become further complicated for both men as the years move on, and we see how time changes one’s perception of what truly matters in life. With absolutely gorgeous cinematography by Alejo Maglio, the senses are treated to a stunning visual experience for most of the runtime, which is a blessing for a movie that demands a lot of its audience for three whole hours.
Despite these positives, a few glaringly obvious issues are hard to overlook, even in hindsight. The film, unfortunately, sabotages itself with an unnecessarily long runtime and an often snail of a pace for its majority, especially in the film’s second, more reflective half. The film sets itself up for a unique payoff and intriguing third act that simply never really comes after a lot of emotional investment. There are a handful of gorgeous yet irrelevant shots and even unneeded scenes that, if cut, would’ve done wonders to make the film more concise and digestible overall.
With all this being said, “The Delinquents” is a unique and quite amusing approach to the heist genre in need of some refreshment. Moreno brings a multitude of exceptional filmmaking to the decades-long story and gives it his all to deliver something wholly unique and rewarding. Esteban Bigliardi and Daniel Elias give it their all to keep the film afloat and do a decent job working overtime to keep the film intriguing and audiences awake as the pace limps along and the film’s ideas steadily lose their impact. It’s not a masterpiece by any means, nor is it a train wreck, either. It may be somewhere in the middle, which is fitting considering where both characters end up when the story concludes and the lingering feeling which is left with the audience once the credits roll. Despite the captivating performances, a shorter runtime was needed for audiences to truly appreciate the potential this admirable effort held.