Monday, December 28, 2009

Police, Adjective (ROMANIAN)

(Politist, Adj.)
Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Cop with a Conscious Experiences Existential Crisis in Wry Dramedy

Compared to America, a country inclined to dole out stiff sentences to drug offenders, Romania is a place where a police officer might be rather reluctant to bust someone for a narcotics violation. At least that’s what’s suggested by Police, Adjective, the two-time Cannes-winner from writer/director Corneliu Porumboiu, whose previous picture, 12:08 East of Bucharest, also picked up a couple of awards at the famed, French film festival.
This deadpan dramedy stars Dragos Bucur as Cristi, a cop who experiences a crisis in conscience after being ordered by his boss (Ion Stoica) to keep a teenager suspected of dealing under surveillance. But after shadowing Victor (Radu Costin) for days on end, the detective realizes that the kid is just a recreational user whose worst offense is offering to share some hashish with a couple of classmates.
If you buy the Talking Heads’ notion that Heaven’s a place where nothing ever happens, then this deliberately-paced morality play might be your definition of nirvana. Think of Police, Adjective as the direct antithesis of the generic Hollywood crime thriller featuring such staples of the genre as gunplay, fisticuffs and that obligatory chase scene where a careening car plows through a fruit stand and sideswipes a woman with a baby carriage before flying off a cliff and exploding in a fireball. Don’t expect any of that.
Instead, what you’re treated to here are couple of glum gumshoes bordering on existential crisis waxing philosophical in the station house as they parse words like “conscience,” “police,” “moral” and “law” in elusive Clintonesque fashion. So, does the schoolboy scofflaw get brought to justice in the end? Turns out, that depends more on dictionary definitions than on catching the perp red-handed.
A slow to unravel crime saga laced with the trademark super-realism we’ve come to expect of the New Wave of Romanian cinema.

Very Good (3 stars)
In Romanian with subtitles
Running time: 115 minutes
Studio: IFC Films

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