A strange, and ultimately very rewarding, beast of a film.
The lens excruciatingly follows Cristi, a young policeman as he in turn follows a school boy and his friends as they have been caught smoking hashish on the grounds of a kindergarten located in an unspecified Romanian city (we only know that it is not Bucharest).
The camera doubles as a mirror of Cristi’s forensic attitude, as he scans the school ground for remains of the joints that the youngsters have been smoking, and in the manner that the lens follows almost every one of his movements and the environment where he moves, particularly telling are the shots where the camera focuses on a dirty light switch as Cristi enters his office, then it pans in the room highlighting the shabby furniture and computer equipment, battered steel lockers on one wall. Prophetic are also the scenes filmed in a rather posh part of the city, with badly paved roads and footpaths, so commonly seen outside the so-called developed world. Are British streets leading to a similar fate, as funding to local authorities is being savagely cut in this era of austerity?
Police, Adjective, as the name implies, is about language, meaning, lack of meaning and multiple meanings of words, this chain started by Cristi’s conflict between his conscience and his duty as a police officer, as seen by his superior. Language, how we use words and what we actually mean, or do not mean, when we say something, this is the core of the film, leading to scenes with a calm and slow burning kind of humour, scenes that also lead to question my own use of language and what I actually mean when I open my mouth. I may decide not to open it ever again...
Particularly informative is the meeting between Cristi, his colleague Nelu and the philosopher Commander of the police station, Anghelache (wrongly translated as Captain in the subtitles, perhaps as an attempt to emulate the language used in American TV police series), resulting in the frantic search for a Romanian dictionary throughout the whole of the building.
A rewarding film that analyses with forensic precision the use of language, officialdom, morality, conscience, and the compromises we take during every minute of our lives to just get on. I did not only truly enjoyed it, but I also feel that Police, Adjective will slow burn in me for years to come.
Director & Screenwriter: Corneliu Porumboiu
Cast: Dragos Bucur, Vlad Ivanov, Irina Saulescu, Ion Stoican Marian Ghenea, Cosmin Selesi, Serban Georgevici, George Remes, Adina Dulcu, Dan Cogalniceanu, Costi Dita, Alexandru Sabadac, Anca Diaconu, Radu Costin, Viorel Nebunu, Emanoela Tigla, Daniel Barsan, Bungeanu Mioara.
Distributor: Artificial Eye