Thursday, October 21, 2010

POLICE, ADJECTIVE (2009) - Corneliu Porumboiu

Police, Adjective is a Euro cop procedural done up in Romanian realist style. In other words, not very much happens, and what doesn't happen generally happens in very long takes with very little dialogue. For most cop movie aficionados, the operative adjective in Police, Adjective will be "boring." But for cop movie fans who are beard-scratchers and pseudo-intellectuals (doubly guilty as charged) the adjective might be kinder and in need a modifying adverb -- "ponderously intriguing."

Police, Adj. revolves around the world's most uneventful stakeout. A young Romanian cop lurks around a schoolyard spying on a teenager who occasionally meets up with friends and takes a few hits of hashish before tossing it. And THAT'S IT. The brass wants the young cop to bust the kid in a schoolyard sting operation as a potential supplier and be done, but the cop has no evidence to believe the kid supplies to anyone other than himself. He finds himself in a moral quandary. Is he willing to ruin this kid's life for a few tokes of hash just because the current law says so? A law which will likely be changed in a year or so when Romania goes fully Euro?

As evidenced in the title, Police, Adj. is really more about dialectics than police work. It's not about shoot-outs or stake-outs so much as the words and symbols that stand-in for big ideas like "conscience" and "law" and the way bureaucracies and individual cops flail about trying to interpret them into action. You know you're in a different kind of cop movie when the climactic showdown of the film takes place not in a gun runner's warehouse but in the police chief's office as he flips through the pages of the Romanian Language Dictionary.

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