The Delinquents is the latest drama from acclaimed Argentine director Rodrigo Moreno. It centers around a bank heist in Buenos Aires, but quickly evolves into a sprawling 3-hour exploration of freedom, identity and masculinity. Moreno is known for his poetic style and unconventional narratives that subvert genre expectations. With The Delinquents premiering at Cannes, expectations were high for something boundary-pushing yet accessible.
In this review, we’ll evaluate if The Delinquents lives up to the hype. Does Moreno’s unhurried pace and looping structure enhance the viewing experience or test audiences’ patience? Are the existential themes too high-brow or do they resonate with universal desires? How do the lead performances and cinematography contribute to the atmosphere? And most importantly – is The Delinquents worth your time and money at the theater?
Any film over 3 hours long faces challenges holding viewer interest. The Delinquents has drawn comparisons to recent marathon-length Argentine films like La Flor and Trenque Lauquen. But Moreno isn’t just self-indulgently stretching out a simple story. He’s carefully crafting an immersive world where character development and philosophical ideas have room to breathe.
We’ll analyze how successfully The Delinquents pulls this off. Slow cinema with layers to unpack can be immensely satisfying, but also runs the risk of being tedious. By evaluating all aspects of the filmmaking, we’ll determine whether The Delinquents should be seen as a bold new triumph of contemporary Argentine cinema or an ambitious misfire.
Ponderous or Purposeful? Evaluating the Slow Burn
At nearly 3 hours long, with a leisurely pace and many digressions, The Delinquents is clearly not trying to be an adrenaline-fueled thriller. Moreno takes his time in unfolding the story, favoring long takes and quiet character moments over quickly-cut action. For audiences accustomed to snappy mainstream films, this unrushed approach may test their patience. However, there is intent behind the languid pacing that serves the overall themes of breaking free from societal routines.
The extended runtime stands in stark contrast to most heist or crime films centered around a robbery. Moreno turns genre conventions on their head, making the actual theft feel like an afterthought. There are no tense stakeouts, frantic getaways, or cat-and-mouse games with the authorities. Instead, the focus stays on how the stolen cash allows the characters to re-evaluate their mundane lives. Their gradual awakening to new possibilities requires the breathing room of an expanded timeline.
At nearly 3 hours long, The Delinquents certainly isn’t in a hurry to get anywhere. Moreno’s preference for long takes, sometimes wordless for minutes on end, creates an immersive realism at the expense of momentum. However, this deliberate pace also allows for nuanced character development beyond the standard crime procedural. We observe the full impact of their choices in real-time, as both Morán and Román evolve before our eyes.
While mainstream audiences may balk at the unrushed pace, fans of introspective art house fare will recognize Moreno’s commitment to fully exploring his philosophical themes. The Delinquents requires patience as an act of discipline, much like the paths the protagonists take in rejecting capitalist drudgery. For those willing to tune their minds to its meditative wavelength, the slow burn pace yields rewards in emotional resonance. However, for viewers seeking pure entertainment, the languid pacing could feel like punishment.
A Purposeful Puzzle: Evaluating the Non-Linear Storytelling
At first glance, The Delinquents seems to follow a straightforward heist plotline. But Moreno employs several unorthodox narrative techniques that complicate matters in thought-provoking ways. The non-linear, looping timeline incorporates repeating motifs, anagrams, and parallel characters. While this could frustrate viewers looking for clear explanations, Moreno’s structural choices mirror his themes of blurred identities and cyclical routines.
The story frequently doubles back on itself, replaying scenes from different perspectives. This invites analysis of how the protagonists influence each other, almost merging into one. Their anagrammatic names Morán and Román allude to alternate versions of the same person. The parallels continue with the rural sisters Norma and Morna, suggesting cosmic coincidences linking these four lives.
By scrambling the timeline and doubling characters, Moreno creates an engaging puzzle-box rather than a predictable narrative. Just when it seems their paths are set, new possibilities arise. This forces greater engagement from the viewer to unpack the themes. We reassess our initial assumptions as the story loops back and reveals additional layers.
However, for those who prefer clearly delineated plot progression, the tangled narrative web could prove frustrating. It’s best approached like assembling a mental mosaic rather than waiting for definitive answers. The repeating motifs and namesakes don’t have an absolute solution, but rather invite subjective interpretation.
While not everyone will appreciate having to actively analyze the unconventional structure, this creative approach aligns perfectly with the film’s ideas. Life rarely moves in a linear direction. Moreno compels us to see beyond surface appearances for deeper connections. For patient viewers, letting the strange narrative wash over you without overanalyzing can be rewarding. Just like the protagonists, we must embrace new ways of seeing.
Painterly Frames: Analyzing the Evocative Cinematography
The Delinquents features striking cinematography from Alejo Maglio and Inés Duacastella that further immerses us in this contemplative world. Shooting on film with natural light lends an immersive, organic texture. Their compositional choices enhance the leisurely pacing and reflect the protagonists’ inner states.
Many scenes unfold in long, unbroken takes. The camera moves smoothly, often following the characters on drawn-out strolls through environments both urban and pastoral. Slow zooms articulate shifts in relationships or mindsets. Wide landscape shots underscore the setting’s role in their self-discovery. This visual approach aligns with the film’s thoughtful tempo.
The muted color palette heavy on grays and greens evokes the dreary routine of the protagonists’ work lives. As their perspectives expand, the grading shifts towards warmer, sunnier tones. Shadowy interiors contrast with the golden rural vistas that symbolize freedom. We visually traverse their psychological journeys from stagnation to liberation.
The tactile filmic aesthetic transports the viewer to another era, much like the music from legendary Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla. Avoiding slick digital sheen, the image takes on the cracked, grainy texture of memories faded by time. This hypnotic, slightly dreamlike look perfectly complements the elliptical narrative.
While the languid camerawork won’t impress those seeking kinetic excitement, patient viewers will appreciate how it communicates tone and theme. Moreno uses the flexibility of cinema to not just tell a story, but inhabit a subjective, immersive space. Like the best cinematic canvasses, The Delinquents is as much a state of mind as a sequence of events.
Searching for Meaning: Examining the Poetic Social Commentary
On the surface, The Delinquents follows a basic heist plot. But Moreno infuses the story with thoughtful commentary on work, identity, and freedom. While not overtly preachy, the philosophical themes explore profound questions about modern masculinity, capitalism, and systems of control.
At its core, the film examines frustrations with the endless capitalist grind. Morán’s bank heist is portrayed not as a crime of greed, but a quest for emancipation from his lifeless job. He wishes to buy back his freedom by paying a literal and figurative price. Román experiences a similar awakening, using the money as an escape from routine. Their journeys become meditations on what constitutes a meaningful existence beyond work.
This rejection of the rat race reflects a stifled masculinity. The characters initially cling to conventional formulas for self-worth like providing financially and blending into the system. But their personalities bloom when pursuing more individualized self-discovery. Though portrayed with nuance, Moreno subtly critiques how societal norms can rigidly shape men’s lives.
Blurring the lines between criminality and freedom forms an ambiguous morality. Laws are shown as systems designed to benefit the powerful elite while restricting ordinary citizens. We’re left to ponder whether fulfilling work, financial security, and autonomy are only accessible by coloring outside the lines. But consequences still arise, suggesting that total freedom is likely an illusion.
While some may critique this romanticized criminality, Moreno seems more interested in exploring existential themes than condoning unlawful behavior. The universal desire to avoid wasting one’s finite time on earth resonates regardless of the paths taken. Though set in Argentina, the questions raised apply equally to capitalist cultures where work defines identity.
Some will surely dismiss the philosophical themes as navel-gazing indulgence. But fans of international art house cinema will recognize an auteur grappling with universal societal contradictions. Love or hate the characters’ choices, The Delinquents compellingly depicts the struggle to find meaning in a complex world. Moreno succeeds in crafting a thought-provoking parable out of pulpy genre elements.
Complex Leads: Examining the Nuanced Performances
The Delinquents rests heavily on the talents of leads Daniel Elías and Esteban Bigliardi as Morán and Román. Their intertwining journeys drive the complex narrative. Though supporting roles add color, our interest hinges on connecting with these two flawed everymen. Thankfully both actors deliver layered performances equal to the material.
As the inscrutable Morán, Elías exhibits precise comic timing in presenting a deadpan profile of middle-aged malaise. His repressed banker becomes sympathetic once we understand his extreme act as an escape from tedium. Elías deftly conveys both icy calculation as well as sensual awakening once Morán embraces new experiences in prison and beyond. We believe both sides of this multidimensional character.
Meanwhile, Bigliardi brings nervy energy to the risk-averse Román, vividly depicting his dilemma in hiding illicit cash. Bigliardi channels his character’s cascading worries and burgeoning longing for more. When Román eventually finds kindred spirits, Bigliardi sells his transformation with joyous conviction.
Though opposites in some regards, both actors tap into the universal desire for control over one’s fate. Their flawed but understandable choices become more engaging due to these memorable performances.
Some supporting players like Laura Paredes as the suspicious bank inspector make strong impressions. But our connection to the film depends most on Elías and Bigliardi’s work, enhanced by Moreno’s willingness to patiently observe their emotional transitions. Their subtle reactions and unspoken doubts draw us into this meditative character study.
For films with such deliberate pacing, lead performances can make or break the viewer’s engagement. Thankfully Elías and Bigliardi provide sensitive, charismatic interpretations to invest us in these ordinary men undertaking extraordinary journeys of self-realization. Their compelling work helps reward those willing to stick with The Delinquents through the slow burn.
Setting the Tone: Evaluating the Transportive Music
An evocative musical soundtrack proves essential for films aspiring to transport audiences to another time and place. In The Delinquents, the score by Fabio Massimo Capogrosso and compilation of Argentine artists help conjure a sense of the protagonists’ inner odysseys. The music choices reflect both the periodic ambiguity and wistful mood.
Capogrosso’s original score features lovely accordion melodies and strings that complement scenes set in Buenos Aires. For sequences in the countryside, his pastoral compositions with piano and guitar beautifully underscore the open vistas. Throughout, his cueing heightens emotions, whether during moments of tension or liberation.
Several cuts from legendary tango composer Astor Piazzolla effectively capture the melancholy ofroutine. Piazzolla’s bandoneónaccordion adds a haunting touch well-suited to the film’s deliberate pace. Rock songs with lyrics ruminating on freedom, like “Where Is Freedom?” by Pappo’s Blues, underscore the characters’ restless searching.
While not flashy, the soundtrack provides an unobtrusive through-line for the elliptical narrative. The mix of original scoring and Argentine classics of various eras reinforces that sense of timelessness. Like the visual atmosphere, the music establishes a palpable mood essential to fully engaging with this meditative character study. The tactile instrumentation echoes the analog cinematography.
Though the music supervision lacks mainstream hits, the transportive score and complementary song choices perfectly encapsulate The Delinquents’ essence. Nuanced composition and poignant melodies make palpable the passage from stagnation to liberation.
Worth the Journey: Final Thoughts on The Delinquents
In the end, does The Delinquents justify its nearly 3-hour runtime and unorthodox narrative? That depends on each viewer’s taste and expectations. Those seeking standard heist thrills should look elsewhere. But patient audiences will find a wholly original cinematic experience that lingers long after.
For mainstream viewers, the slowly unfolding story and lack of dramatic tension could test their patience. The philosophical themes are less accessible than the clearly defined stakes of a genre procedural. Yet there is virtue in Moreno prioritizing nuanced character development over plot pyrotechnics.
Fans of international art house fare will better appreciate this tone poem tackling universal struggles. Though set in Argentina, the dilemmas of identity, routine, and meaning resonate across borders. Moreno succeeds at crafting an immersive world where we feel time unfolding before us.
The Delinquents deserves praise for its technical mastery and commitment to a bold vision, even if its rewards are not suited to all tastes. It announces Moreno as a leading auteur willing to reject conventions and tell unconventional stories.
Flaws like the overlong runtime and derivative moments can be forgiven considering the overall originality. For those in tune with its meditative wavelength, The Delinquents provides a uniquely hypnotic and poetic viewing experience. It raises thought-provoking questions about work, freedom, and human nature that linger long after.
In the end, slow cinema deserves the same consideration as any challenging art form. The Delinquents requires an open mind, but those able to lower their speed and immerse themselves will find the journey expansive and rewarding. Moreno has crafted a true original – the viewing equivalent of a winding hike through varied terrain rather than a race to the finish.
Though it won't appeal to all tastes, The Delinquents is an artistic triumph that defies expectations. Moreno has crafted an immersive world where form and function align to explore timeless existential questions. For patient viewers, the deliberate pacing yields a uniquely hypnotic viewing experience. The Delinquents deserves praise for daring to tell an unconventional story in a thoughtful, absorbing manner.
- Unique and unconventional storytelling.
- Thought-provoking exploration of existential themes.
- Strong performances from the lead actors.
- Evocative and immersive cinematography.
- Artistic and meditative approach to filmmaking.
- Transportive and fitting musical score.
- Lengthy runtime may test the patience of some viewers.
- Slow pacing and lack of traditional thriller elements may not appeal to mainstream audiences.
- Complex and non-linear storytelling could be confusing for some viewers.
- Some may find the philosophical themes to be too abstract or esoteric.
- Not suitable for those seeking fast-paced entertainment.
- Requires an open mind and patience to fully appreciate.