17 March 2008 | MaxBorg89
Slick, but fairly conventional drama
How come all crime movies, or most of them at least, have to revolve around a big heist? Why not focus on something smaller? Pickpockets, perhaps? That's exactly what Ladrones does, with mixed results.
The main character is a nameless boy (Juan Jose Ballesta) who was taught to steal wallets by his absent mother. He is able to do the trick effortlessly, using his "earnings" to survive while he looks for his mom. As he runs into an antique store owner, he might have found a trace that will lead to her. First, however, he will have to pull off a few "jobs" for the store owner, and he can't do it alone: enter a nameless girl (Maria Valverde) who gets to learn all the secret techniques the young boy has been using all his life.
Boy, girl, crime, love: not much of an original combo, huh? Bonnie and Clyde, Badlands, True Romance and many other superior films have dealt with the same themes over and over again. Ladrones is elegantly executed and far from annoying, but something is clearly missing. Perhaps it has to do with director Jaime Marques' inability to juxtapose the two plot strands of the movie: the doomed, rebellious romance is handled quite well (although the actors were definitely chosen for their looks rather than their talent), whereas the protagonist's search for his mother, which was supposed to be the story's driving force, is abruptly sidelined in the third act in favor of more teenage angst and other elements that set the path towards a predictable, emotionless climax. One might argue certain tales can only end like that - fair enough, but is it too much to ask for a little gusto in the delivery?