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Laramie Movie Scope: A Cop Movie

Behind the curtain of cops and movies

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 26, 2022 – A unique blend of documentary, docudrama and fiction, “A Cop Movie” lifts the veil on police work in Mexico City, as well as the moviemaking process.

This Spanish language Netflix movie starts out as a standard police ride-along drama with veteran cop María Teresa Hernández Cañas (played by Mónica del Carmen of “New Order”). Teresa is forced to deliver a baby, with no medical training, using surgical gloves she bought with her own money, all because the ambulance is two hours late. It is a harrowing experience, but Teresa is justifiably proud of herself afterwards.

The parents and neighbors congratulate Teresa on her impromptu medical work, then hurl insults at the emergency medical team when the ambulance finally arrives after the baby has already been delivered. As we follow Teresa through her patrols, we find out that bribes and political corruption are routine in Mexico City police work. An armed robbery might go unreported because all the goods in the store were obtained illegally in the first place. Teresa is also sexually harassed as part of routine interactions with male officers.

Another cop in the film is José de Jesús Rodríguez Hernández, better known as Montoya (played by Raúl Briones) who is thin and handsome, a ladies man. Nevertheless, we see him disrespected by a belligerent man while on duty at a gay rights parade. Another man comments that cops in the United States would not put up with this kind of abuse. Montoya replies, “That's right. We live in Mexico.”

In Mexico city, a cop who pulls over somebody for a traffic infraction might end up negotiating for a bribe, rather than handing out a traffic ticket. Bribes and payoffs happen within the police administration too. If a cop wants to be issued a good bulletproof vest or a good sidearm, that requires a payoff. The bribes go up the line, and help to fund the entire law enforcement system. It is a strange way to do business.

Teresa and Montoya become a couple, going on patrols together, an arrangement facilitated by payoffs. They also end up living together. The other cops refer to them as “The love patrol.” Montoya credits Teresa with saving his life. He had been depressed and suicidal before teaming up with her.

This movie goes through radical transformations from time to time. The story of Teresa and Montoya is actually a factual story, and we meet the real Teresa and Montoya in the film. The fourth wall is broken, and we get to know the actors who play Teresa and Montoya. We see the actors go through police training, and we get to listen in on their video diaries as they discuss their feelings about the characters they play.

In one scene, actor Raúl Briones discusses his impressions of policing with an actual cop during a ride-a-long, while preparing for his role as Montoya. In another scene Teresa is shown riding along in the back seat of a patrol car behind her father, narrating a violent encounter she never witnessed. She is kind of like a ghost in the scene.

And yes, the movie does reveal what finally happens with the Love Patrol via an intertitle at the end of the movie, which I will not reveal here. I found the structure of this film to be awkward and hard to follow at times. It doesn't exactly flow like water. It is more like chunks of icebergs, connected, but also disconnected — distinct chapters, linked by common threads, but each is presented in a different way.

As an exploration of what it is like to be a cop in Mexico City, this film seems very effective. It gets inside police life in a way I've never seen before. It is also gave me some insight into how the actors felt about the characters they portrayed, and their impressions of Mexico City cops.

While the film's storytelling flow is fractured, it is also a fine example of groundbreaking experimental filmmaking by director and co-writer Alonso Ruizpalacios (“Museo”). It probably loses a lot in the translation, and it is sometimes a bit difficult to tell the actors from the real people they play, when both occupy the same movie, but it is an instructive film with interesting characters I cared about. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2022 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]