El Bonaerense


El Bonaerense
Pablo Trapero
2002, Andrés Wood Producciones
105, Spanish with English subtitles

LATAMROB rating: ****

PABLO TRAPERO’S El Bonaerense is a remarkable exploration of the ties that bind Argentina’s two worlds – the bustling metropolis and the sleepy provinces – which in this case are nepotism, corrupt institutions and indifferent officialdom. Zama (Jorge Román) is a small-town locksmith whose own, very local brush with the law is dealt with by his uncle, who gets him a job in the … law. Sent to join the downtown Buenos Aires police (the title is a play on words referring both to these boys in blue and also a hick from the province with the same name), his journey is also cultural, as he becomes immersed in the indolent and incompetent world of a parasitic entity as much of a threat to law and order as the criminals themselves. A subtext here is about the corrupting influence of city life, which transforms the hapless Zama into an abusive partner of a police colleague, Mabel (Mimí Ardú). But the main message is clear: collaboration in a cynical, and very male, web of corruption is a function of ignorance, blind obedience and limited opportunities. The director conveys a bleak mood with great technical skill, and Román acts the patsy with disturbing conviction. – GJ