A Cop Movie
Fiction and reality are evenly matched in a playful scuffle in director Alonso Ruizpalacios’s oddball hybrid documentary, A Cop Movie. It’s a likeable approach to the subject matter, even though any sense of a deeper meaning or purpose remains evasive.
Teresa and Montoya are cops in Mexico City’s municipal police force. In a documentary format, they relate their original aspirations for becoming police officers, along with the particular affliction of being honourable in law enforcement when there’s practically a standard bureaucratic process for taking bribes. But surely this can’t be an actual documentary? The footage is too precise, too graceful – and, sure enough, the actors playing Teresa and Montoya (Mónica Del Carmen and Raúl Briones) are introduced, who then, in turn, describe their experiences training for their roles at the city’s police academy. So it’s fiction? Not quite. The actual Teresa and Montoya are also presented, although given the misinformation that has preceded them, viewers can only take the filmmaker’s word that these are actual real-life figures.
This multifaceted tactic could easily have become a showy distraction, but the material is handled with a surety that combines the various narrative methods into something coherent that manages to be, at times, fascinating. The only question is, “Why?”. What sort of meaning can be applied to the work is debatable, although the different threads of this feature certainly add body and balance to one another.
The most intuitive statement depicted in the film (and it’s a mystery as to whether or not this was scripted) addresses the similarities between police officers and actors: cops pretend within reality, whereas actors pretend within fantasy. The role-play element and general duality of these disparate professions is clearly what Ruizpalacios is playing with, even though it doesn’t add up to as much insight as one might have liked. It’s not always successful in its execution, but as an entertainingly abstract portrait of an institution and those who are drawn to it, A Cop Movie ticks enough boxes.
A Cop Movie is released on Netflix on 5th November 2021.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for A Cop Movie here: