Rodrigo Moreno’s latest film, The Delinquents, ticks off several genres in its description. It is described as a comedy that also tackles drama, with the central premise dealing with a bank heist. With a three-hour runtime, Moreno manages to achieve all that is listed above, although in entirely unexpected ways, rendering the film an interesting if slightly overlong watch.
Morán, a bank treasurer, has already planned the heist we are expecting to see in the film. In fact, he pulls it off within the first 30 minutes, leaving Moreno plenty of time to execute an existential post-heist comedy. “Three-and-a-half years in the jail, or 25 years at the bank?” is the reason that Morán gives to his colleague Román, when he meets up with him following the theft. Weighing his options between a life spent clocking in and out of the bank, versus few years in the jail, Morán is quick to fill a duffel bag with cash enough to live two lives without having to work, and agrees to split half with fellow employee Román in exchange for hiding the loot until he is released from prison.
It appears to be a simple enough plan proceeding without a hitch, until Morán begins his prison sentence, and Román begins a life dealing with the outcomes. Moreno trains his camera on the fragile foundation of confidence that these two men occupy. While Morán deemed a life in prison to be an easier bargain than spending over two decades at a routine job, it is made abundantly clear that he over-estimated his ability to survive the brutal conditions. Meanwhile, outside the prison walls, Román is left picking up (and stashing away) the pieces left behind by Morán in the wake of the theft. Here, Moreno begins to converge the lives of the two men, which end up becoming the source of comedy and drama alike for The Delinquents. A cheeky way Moreno executes this is by using the actor Germán de Silva who plays a prison bully named Garrincha hounding Morán for cash. Outside, de Silva essays the role of Del Torro, the bank manager who is suspicious of Román’s role in the robbery.
The Delinquents (Spanish)
Director: Rodrigo Moreno
Cast: Daniel Elías, Esteban Bigliardi, Margarita Molfino, Germán de Silva, and others
Run-time: 180 minutes
Storyline: A bank employee and his colleague plan the perfect heist which would enable them to live without ever having to work
Moreno’s writing leisurely carries forward a desire for freedom that the protagonists chase. For three hours, they are teased with the prospect, made to work for it, and beaten about. However, by the time their journeys wrap up, the runtime does not feel entirely justified. While the lingering shots and enduring sequences build up give us more than enough insight into Morán and Román, it comes at the expense of other supporting characters. Norma (Margarita Molfino), who finds herself unwittingly caught up between the affections of the two men, is only given a cursory treatment.
The Delinquents is an existential tale about a heist, executed in the most serene way possible. If nothing else, Moreno puts forth an endearing epic about the tricky negotiations we have to make with our expectations of freedom, and the reality of it.
The Delinquents is available for streaming on Mubi