10 June, 2010

Politist, adjectiv (Police, Adjective) (2009)

Let’s take a look in the dictionary…

European Film Awards Selection, 2009

Police, Adjective (2009) is an already well-acclaimed movie from director Corneliu Porumboiu (12:08 East of Bucharest (2006)) – it was officially selected at the New York and Toronto Film Festivals 2009 and was a double prize winner (Jury and Critics Prize) at Cannes 2009.

Dragos Bucur takes the role of Cristi, a policeman who is surveying three high-school students – he has to gather evidence against one of them, Victor (Radu Costin), the dealer who smokes hashish and who has been turned in by his ‘best friend’, Alex (Alexandru Sabadac).

As the measured action continues, we patiently follow Cristi’s daily detective duties on the streets of the post-Communist city of Vaslui. We watch him walking, waiting, eating, writing his report, talking to his wife about the grammatical errors therein, then walking, waiting and writing once more. Nothing is happening, apparently, in his routine but, then again, look deeper, beyond the layers of silence, and you’ll see that a great deal is occuring.

The more time he spends on the mission, the more vocal his ‘I-don’t-want-to-be-responsible-for-jailing-an-innocent-teenager’ conscience becomes, all of which makes one wonder whether Porumboiu was inspired by Sartre’s concept of ‘reflective consciousness’.

Will Captain Anghelache (Vlad Ivanov), his superior, understand Cristi’s moral drama? Or will he oblige him, via humiliation, to “do his duty”, according to the Romanian Explanatory Dictionary?

One not-to-be-missed scene involves the three policemen, Cristi, Captain Anghelache and Nelu, Cristi’s colleague (Ion Stoica), who are searching for words in the dictionary, trying to figure out the meanings of ‘police’ and ‘justice’ in Romanian – meanings which, however, are not the same for Cristi. Duty or conscience? Wait a minute, let’s check…

Police, Adjective is in fact a witty critique of the Romanian judicial system and the country’s contemporary social situation – with many Romanian stereotypes, much dry humour, language dissection, power and moral crisis in a rich, existentialistic satire, Porumboiu film is further proof that Romanian cinema is pushing forward strongly. Three cheers for Porumboiu!

Awards: Click here for details.

Otilia Ilie
113 mins. In Romanian.

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