A Cop Movie (2021)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

There are two ways to shoot a scene and one of them is wrong.

David Fincher

Director Alonso Ruizpalacios could have approached his documentary A Cop Movie in multiple ways. The result brings us closer to the idea of ​​the man from Seven (1995), there was only one correct way to approach this issue. The only thing that makes more headlines than corruption in Mexico is drug trafficking. We can argue that the two things are so closely linked that it is impossible to define where one begins and the other ends. Corruption was the yeast that fermented this idea of ​​Ruizpalacios that in the end ended up focusing on a single institution within the entire political fabric.

The policemen are perhaps the first rung of this steep staircase. They are, without a doubt, the cell closest to the common citizen, a condition that makes them more easily exposed and makes them an affordable target to tarnish. The high rejection rate, damaged reputation, and constant scandals paved the way for A Cop Movie to take shape. But of all those wide avenues that the director had before him, he decided to take a narrow and dangerous road. The look is given from the inside and in the first person, the lines between fiction and documentary are blurred and what results is a hybrid that seduces us.

Teresa & Montoya

It is not enough to explain what it means to be a police officer in Mexico. Not even a ten-chapter documentary in which we go back to the Mayan empire and return to the present day saturated with data on how and why things are the way they are, would be enough to understand this complex ecosystem. That is why the director decides to make us live in the shoes of two policemen for 1 hour and 47 minutes. It takes us deep into the bowels of the beast and spits us to shreds. A Cop Movie orbits Teresa and Montoya, a police couple from Mexico City who earned the nickname “the love patrol” because their relationship transcended to the sentimental plane.

From Teresa and Montoya, the film tells us about the shortcomings of a broken system and shows us how corruption is so sown that it is perceived and accepted as the standard way of operating for agents. Ruizpalacios provokes us with a narrative that leans toward documentary but that breaks up the molds and combines with the resources of fictional cinema to teach us that Teresa and Montoya are three-dimensional beings, that we cannot enclose them in the frame of a lens. The staging is really the riskiest element of A Cop Movie and that challenging element in the director’s speech is something that has accompanied him since his debut film Güeros (2014).

A police movie throws a lot of salt in the wound, but not for the simple pleasure of enjoying the pain. The film shows an institution that has lost all credibility and that staggers on its way to its grave, but it does so by freeing its perspective from prejudices and without taking things out of context. Teresa and Montoya are an anchor, and their stories are so dense that not all the fiction in the world could invent them without seeming implausible. Ruizpalacios achieves one of the best documentaries of recent years and closes his speech with a powerful allegory that refers to the leap into the unknown that is condemnation and salvation.

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