The chiaroscuro-loving cinema of Rodrigo Moreno, director of “Los delincuentes”


He cannot exactly date the moment when his desire to make films manifested itself. Rodrigo Moreno, 51, knows what led him there. Actor parents who made him familiar with theater stages and television sets from a very young age. His taste, throughout his childhood, for drawing which he practiced in the form of comic strips. And, later, for radio theater to which he devoted himself assiduously. “The conjunction of visual and sound inevitably led me to cinema ,” he says. And then comics and radio theater touched on the notion of children’s play that we find in the relationship I have with cinema. Which is a playful relationship. »

After studying at the Universidad del Cine in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the city in which he was born and still lives, Rodrigo Moreno directed a short film and several feature films. Despite their presence in numerous festivals (Berlin, Sundance, Toronto) and the awards received, only one of them reached us in France El custodio   (2006), a remarkable film whose central figure, a bodyguard attached to the security of a senior state official, serves as a revealer of the obscenity of power.

Selected in May 2023 at Cannes, in the Un certain regard category, Los delincuentes once again focuses on invisible characters. Or two small bank employees, Roman and Moran, whose desire for freedom will lead them to cross the white line. And what does it matter if the promise of a bucolic life without constraints comes at the cost of a few years in prison for one of them.

Living in modest idleness

Breaking with the alienation of work: the question occupies the Argentine filmmaker. It runs through his work like, he says, “an old song, a refrain that repeats itself, approached in a different way each time. Basically, what I mainly question is our use of time. What do we do with it? What place should be given to leisure, pleasure and work? How is it negotiated? This is what is at the forefront of all my films and what I should probably study with a psychologist. In Los delincuentes , it is not the desire to no longer want to work that is highlighted, but that of no longer wanting to depend on an authority. This idea is fundamental.”

Adaptation of a 1949 film, Apenas un delincuente ( The Buenos Aires Affair , French title), by Hugo Fregonese (1908-1987), Los delincuentes differs, however, in the ambition that motivates Moran’s character . Which, in the initial film, robbed the bank to get rich. In that of Rodrigo Moreno, it is to live the rest of his days in modest idleness that the character commits his crime. “I wanted to get away from this image of the delinquent as he is almost always represented in the cinema. And this, too, to extract it from the moral judgment to which criminals refer. Moran flies for a noble cause that everyone will be able to identify with. »

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