Monday, 24 June 2013

Review - Polisse (2011 - Dir. Maïwenn)

Certain films can be summed up in a single word. That word in Polisse’s case is ‘harrowing’. This is an undeniably gritty, fly on the wall style drama that is realistic, but at the same time disturbing and difficult viewing. For grit fans it may fall under the select few films that are just too real for their own good. On the other hand, if you enjoy a couple of hours of harrowing drama, then you’ll love this.

The whole film looks and feels like a documentary. It’s based around the work of the Child Protection Unit in Paris and follows the lives of the officers both on duty and in their private lives as they struggle to cope with the various horrific situations they meet on a daily basis. Maïwenn spent time with the actual unit and used the specific cases she encountered throughout the film. Needless to say it’s pretty harrowing stuff.

Sadly there are numerous reasons why I didn’t engage with the film rather than just the harrowing nature of the subject matter. The acting is not convincing from any of the unit’s officers with Joeystarr and Karin Viard the worst offenders at looking out of place, awkward and generally trying too hard. Secondly, the humour that the officers no doubt use as a coping mechanism in real life comes over as crass and distinctly unfunny in the context as the film. And finally, as I’ve stated before on several occasions (Biutiful, Gomarrah, etc.), a great gritty film needs hope. Polisse does not leave you with a grain of hope for humanity and leaves you feeling drained and depressed.

The ending also has the ‘bolt on’ feel of a sixth form goth’s poetic screenplay. And the sub plot about the seconded photographer woman is neither necessary nor coherent.  Do I need to go on?

When all a film has got in its favour is its ability to harrow, then it’s probably best avoided.



If you like this you could also try:
JACKPOT, False Trail, The Hunt.

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