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‘El Patrullero’ on DVD for First Time

3 Apr, 2012 By: Angelique Flores

Twenty years after El Patrullero debuted in Mexican theaters, the drama has become available on DVD from Microcinema International for the first time in North America. Sartorial elements aside, this film doesn’t feel the least bit dated. It’s still as relevant and poignant as ever.

The 1991 film stars Roberto Sosa as Pedro, a young man who has just finished training to be a highway patrol officer, against his father’s wishes. The smart rookie is sent to patrol in the middle of nowhere, but comes with a good reputation and high expectations from his superiors.

Though small in stature, Pedro still has the macho swagger of a large man of law. The laws, however, are, well, like most Mexican laws. For example, Pedro’s instructor says to pull someone over first and then figure out what law they’ve broken later.

But Pedro is a good, honest man with scruples and a heart. He meets a like-minded woman, Griselda, when he pulls her over for a violation. In exchange for letting her off, he asks to meet her for breakfast. The two immediately are attracted to each other and later marry.

But their marriage becomes strained as they realize his salary isn’t enough to sustain them. Things change when the locals, who know the bribery element of the system all too well, automatically give him money to avoid tickets and violations — without him even asking. To celebrate his newfound pay bump, Pedro goes out, gets drunk and ends up with a prostitute, Maribel (a very young Vanessa Bauche).

Griselda forgets all about Pedro coming home at 5 a.m. when he shows her the extra money he’s “earned.” She thinks he’s been working overtime the whole night. (Guys, this won’t work for all women.)

There’s no major plotline to this raw and gritty film, but don’t think it won’t pull you in all the same. It’s a character study of Pedro, and it almost feels voyeuristic watching him day in and day out, navigating his work and his complicated relationships with his Griselda, Maribel, his friend Anibal (Bruno Bichir, brother of Oscar-nominated Démian) and his father. His problems are real, and so his humanity.

It’s surprising Sosa was not nominated for an Ariel, as Bichir was for Best Supporting Actor. Sosa and director Alex Cox did, however, receive accolades at several film festivals at the time of its release.

The DVD comes with some great supplemental extras. The making-of featurette “Patrulleros & Patrulleras” features director Cox (Repo Man, Sid & Nancy) as well as much of the key cast and crew. Shot in 2004, it offers a depth that only 10-plus years in hindsight can as well as credits that serve as a sort of “where are they now” for those in the featurette.

Also included is the short “Edge City,” which as Cox’s student film while at UCLA; the featurette “From Edge City to Mapimi,” on why Cox paired the short with this film; and a commentary by Cox and producer Lorenzo O’Brien.

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