A crook wanting to turn a new leaf after a jail sentence, but being brought back to the world of crime by vested interests for one last time has always been a popular template in thrillers. Under Mexican master Arturo Ripstein, the template is subjected to a rehaul that digs a little deeper to expose corruption involving the police force that afflicts Mexico City. Of special mention is the film’s flashback structure, and the section dealing with the jail term and the protagonist’s affair with the jailor’s wife (played by Anjelica Chain). Pedro Armendariz Jr.’s haunting portrayal of the reformed crook stays with you long after the film is over.
LIFE SENTENCE (1979, Mexico) is streaming on MUBI.
Ranjan Das is a Mumbai based filmmaker and faculty.