Award-winning Mexican director Alonso Ruizpalacio with A Cop Movie has made a brilliant, intriguing and innovative – and startlingly genre-unclassifiable – film, starring Mónica Del Carmen and Raúl Briones.
The Roles of the Policeby Alexa Dalby
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
A Cop Movie (Una Película de Policías) draws you in instantly with its first human interest chapter. Policewoman Teresa is on solo night patrol, her cop car cruising the dark, mean streets of Mexico City. We hear emergency calls on her police radio and her voiceover as she is called out to a run-down block of flats. Are those men who will not get out of the road potentially threatening or are they the ones who called the ambulance?
This opening section is shot like a glossy police reality docu-drama. But then you realise – there’s no way that cameras could have been in some of those places or shot from those angles. What we are actually seeing on screen? Is it docu-drama, drama, documentary or video diary? The clue may be in the title.
The story broadens to include male cop Montoya. Both he and Teresa tell their past and present stories in voiceover. They also appear as themselves in dramatised reconstructions from their lives, lip-synching in person to the words of their voiceovers. Then halfway through the film the fourth wall is broken, more is revealed, and A Cop Movie becomes a different film altogether.
Who would have thought a Netflix docu-drama about Mexican police could be so gripping? The less you know about it in advance, the more rivetting its surprises will be, so this review is necessarily brief.
Award-winning director Alonso Ruizpalacios has made a brilliant, intriguing and innovative – and startlingly genre-unclassifiable – film, starring Mónica Del Carmen and Raúl Briones. A Cop Movie in the end raises questions about the role of the police that are relevant not just in Mexico but here too.
A Cop Movie premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and is released on 5 November 2021 in the UK.