9 user 23 critic

El bonaerense (2002)

A young locksmith is forced to leave his home and family to join the Buenos Aires police force.


Pablo Trapero
8 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jorge Román Jorge Román ... Zapa (as Jorge Roman)
Mimí Ardú Mimí Ardú ... Mabel (as Mimi Arduh)
Darío Levy Darío Levy ... Gallo (as Dario Levy)
Hugo Anganuzzi Hugo Anganuzzi ... Polaco
Víctor Hugo Carrizo ... Molinari
Graciana Chironi Graciana Chironi ... Madre Zapa
Roberto Posse Roberto Posse ... Tío Ismael
Luis Viscat Luis Viscat ... Pellegrino (as Luis Vicat)
Aníbal Barengo Aníbal Barengo ... Caneva (as Anibal Barengo)
Gerardo Maffoni Gerardo Maffoni ... Cabo Osorio
Liliana De Maria Liliana De Maria ... Cabo Marina
Facundo Gomez Facundo Gomez ... Aspirante Salazar
Carlos Federico Simon Carlos Federico Simon ... Hijo de Mabel
Marcela Uzuka Marcela Uzuka ... Instructor Policial
Jorge Alberto Gómez Jorge Alberto Gómez ... Profesor de Insignias (as Jorge Alberto Gomez)


Single, hopeless, and still living with his mother in a dusty village somewhere in Argentina, the thirty-two-year-old locksmith, Zapa, receives a call from his boss to open a safe--and next thing he knows--he is handcuffed, and charged of theft. Framed and down on his luck, Zapa's miserable life will take a turn for the better, when a letter of recommendation from his uncle and former policeman, Ismael, opens a position in the Police Academy to become a corporal. During the days of his rigorous training, Zapa will also experience an irregular love affair; however, will he finally manage to take charge of his life as he works his way up in the West Buenos Aires Police Force? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Provocative and Gripping. See more »


Crime | Drama


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Release Date:

19 September 2002 (Argentina) See more »

Also Known As:

Do Outro Lado da Lei See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,550, 30 November 2003

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


There is a dedication in the beginning of the film: "A Mateo". See more »


Marina: You're an intelligent man, tell me: is the monkey a quadruped or... how was it, a biparous?
Osorio: A biped. Biped, Marina, biped. Monkeys have evolved... In the animal evolving scale, there's no doubt monkeys have evolved. And there are certain human beings, that, although they're just non-feathered bipeds, they are much more than just primates.
See more »


Referenced in Levels (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

Not as strong as it could have been but still an interesting indictment on police corruption
13 February 2005 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Mendoza (Zapa) is a simple locksmith's assistant who does a job for his boss by helping a couple of guys open their safe' he doesn't ask why they need him to crack it and they don't tell him. However he is picked up for the job within a few days and only gets released because his nephew is the chief of police. Forced to leave town in exchange for release he heads to Buenos Aries and takes up training with the police force there thanks to an "in" from his uncle. However Zapa soon realises that this will not be an easy job compared to his last one and indeed may expose him to more wrongdoing than his safecracking assignments.

It must be said that this film surprised me by how slow sections of it appeared to be and how I was left totally uninterested by some parts of it – something, considering the subject, I never expected. The film is not so much about Zapa as a person as it is about the corruption of the police (well, authorities generally) in Argentina and how even "good" people cannot cope to overcome something when they are surrounded by it. In this regard it could have been a fascinating look at corruption told within a thriller format where the main character is interesting because we see him fall morally and get to see the conflict he goes through as a result. Sadly the film doesn't really manage to do a great of this to any great extent. This is not to say that it is valueless, because it is not without positive aspects and it is interesting as an allegory of how corruption corrupts but it just felt that it could have been better in almost every area if it just was a bit better.

The character of Zapa does change during the film but I never really felt for the guy or got to grips with who he was – the change was the all and his character was less important. Likewise the corruption played out is not that gripping and I would have liked to see it delivered as more of an eye-opener as opposed to just being general wallpaper (although I suppose the corruption is so normal that this delivery is part of the film's point). I know that to some degree I am expecting this film to be something it wasn't but it is hard to watch it without seeing weaknesses that could have been strengthened by a bit more development or tightening in key areas. The cast is OK and Roman does well enough to keep the film going but I did wonder if he understood his character any better than I did. The supporting cast are all effective and provide as much support as is required although I would have liked to have seen some stronger characters in there.

Overall this is an interesting film that acts as an indictment on police corruption within Argentina and perhaps, bearing in mind the state of that country, a judgement on authority full stop. The narrative could have been tighter, the characters could have been realer and more engaging and the script been better but, despite these flaws, it is still worth a watch for what it does do.

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