One of the brightest talents of the new Argentine cinema, director Pablo Trapero charts one cop's indoctrination into a world of duplicity in his latest film, El Bonaerense (now at Film Forum). "Zapa tries to show that he's good and innocent on the outside, while on the inside, he's not," says Trapero, describing his emotionally opaque protagonist. "This kind of person is more dangerous than someone who's openly bad. I want the audience to not know whether they love or hate him." Like Zapa, the 32-year-old Trapero grew up in the country and moved to Buenos Aires as a young man. "When you move to a city, you need to adjust your personality," Trapero explains. "You must adapt both physically and mentally."
Adaptation, in Zapa's case, entails a rapid devolution into the tribal customs and bestial living habits of his colleagues. "The images in the movie had to be dirty because Zapa's daily life is dirty," says Trapero, explaining the generous amounts of on-screen grime. "It's not a specifically documentary style, but I like to mix the fiction of my script with the reality that I find while shooting." Like his previous film Crane World, El Bonaerense profiles a working-class man's descent into occupational uncertainty. "For me, Argentina's financial crisis can be a positive thing because it makes me want to work harder on my creativity," Trapero says. "But for Zapa, his new work changes his life completely. He's no longer sure of what he's doing."