Naturalistic take on bent policing Buenos Aires-style

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Overall rating:

Score 4


El Bonaerense


The second film from Argentinean director Pablo Trapero, this more than lives up to the promise of his first, the festival favourite Crane World. It explores similar themes: inarticulate, provincial men are forced by circumstance to move to the city, innocents abroad flung into a harsh environment. In this film, the protagonist is Zapa, a locksmith from the countryside who is arrested when his boss persuades him to crack a safe. His well-connected uncle gets him off the charge on the condition that he moves to Buenos Aires to join the police force, the notorious bonaerense.

Completely naturalistic in tone, this handsomely photographed film eschews traditional devices like suspense and tension-building. Instead the moments of crushing boredom on the job are given equal emphasis as sharp, sudden shocks of brutal cruelty and police corruption, and unexpectedly torrid sex scenes. The picture is no less rewarding for its episodic structure. In fact, it serves to emphasise the inevitability of Zapf’s assimilation into the darker side of city policing, and the exchange of one corrupt employer for another.