Now available to stream on Mubi, Rodrigo Moreno's film, The Delinquents, is one of the most intriguing and unique takes on a bank heist story we've seen.
The Argentinian writer/director starts off with a bank robbery by employee Morán (Daniel Elias), with a relative amount of ease, and he's not looking to particularly greedy. Morán calculates how much money he would make before retirement and takes that amount for himself, and his friend and colleague Román (Esteban Bigliardi).
After leaving the money with Román to hide, Morán's plan is to confess to his crime, with the understanding that his prison sentence should only last a few years.
Román does become Morán's accomplice, which leads him to the countryside of Córdoba, Argentina, where Morán has told him to stash the funds.
On his trip he meets a young woman, Norma (Margarita Molfino), and her sister Morna (Cecilia Rainero), and her filmmaker boyfriend Ramón (Javier Zoro).
Throughout the film, Moreno very much leans into elements of duality and doubling, including the names of the characters. But when Morán gets out of jail, that's a significant portion of the movie that leans into those elements as he lives out his post-jail plan, much of which Román has been experiencing.
Being free from realism to craft a 'fable'
Throughout The Delinquents, Moreno has decided to use a sort of retro, '70s aesthetic, which is particularly attractive for a space like the bank, when a more modern day bank setting would be far more stark and drab.
As Moreno explained, this choice is linked to his "conflicted" relationship with realism in films.
"I don't believe in realism in films, I think it's a kind of dictatorship we live, because all the films nowadays are realistic. All the films, all the TV series, everything is realistic," Moreno told Yahoo Canada. "There is a loss to the specific core of film language, which has its own reality, very different from what we think reality is, which is a convention, of course."
"In this case, I had this fable and the way ... to build up this fable was to separate from a realistic source. The representation had to be different from any realistic source. ... The jail is an invention, it's not a jail here in Argentina. Prisoners don't wear uniforms like in the film, like if it were [Escape from Alcatraz] with Clint Eastwood walking around."
'I don't really care about psychology in film, I think it's the enemy of film language'
When it came to Moreno's collaboration with the actors, the filmmaker stressed that for any movie he makes, he's more interested in "the person behind the actor," than their acting abilities. He described his relationship with The Delinquents actor as more of a "documentary approach."
"I prefer to work with them, not trying to find any psychological dimension of the character, I don't really care about that," Moreno said. "I don't really care about psychology in film, I think it's the enemy of film language."
The filmmaker's approach is to create an atmosphere on his films where the actors feel like they are "part of the film."
"They feel part of the creative process," Moreno said. "Speaking about the film form, more than the objective of the character, the action and all those things, which I think is very useful for theatre, but not for film."
Moreno explained that's why he combines professional actors with non-professional actors in his projects.
For example, in The Delinquents, Javier Zoro is a friend of Moreno, not a career actor. When it came to casting Daniel Elías, Moreno said he was interested in his "point of view."
"My rehearsals before making the film or not rehearsals in terms of, 'OK let's play the action, let's play the scenes,' it's conversations," Moreno explained.
The Delinquents also uses an interesting and specific way to allow the film's secondary characters to really shine through with their own moments
"What I wanted to make was not a functional story, not functional in terms of storytelling where every scene has to say something in the story," Moreno said. "The idea of an un-functional structure that allows me to ... take detours, ... detours where you think that the story could take that way, and you can stay in that place, ... but immediately after, the film takes another detour."
"All of those places the film goes are made of secondary characters. I wanted the secondary characters to give to the film their own universe, ... to have the time to stay with them, to know them, and those characters have their own moments in the film."
With a runtime of over three hours, Moreno crafted The Delinquents in a way that ensures the story is never stale, as we go through the twists of this compelling journey.