Polisse - Riveting and Gritty Police Drama

                       There are/were many television series about police or crime or homicide, set in New York or a major city in any country. The cops and their superiors, in those series, were always overwhelmed by the  crime, violence, and corruption on the streets of the city. Although their existence depended on the alertness and skills of their partners, there were also angry clashes and emotional explosions among the officers due to the stress of the job. 'Polisse' (2011), a French crime/drama which won the Jury prize at Cannes last year, is a similar episodic ensemble piece based on cases handled by Paris's Child Protection Unit, but the style here is extremely naturalistic, with the invisible camerawork.

                    'Polisse' is the third feature film of actress-director Maiwenn. She has grounded every aspect of the film in reality. Several of the incidents in the movie seem incredible. Sometimes the police officers, shockingly but believably, are occasionally reduced to helpless laughter by the absurdity of the stories they're told. With a running time of 120 minutes, we are immersed in the lives of these cops as they attempt both to see justice done and to preserve their sanity.

                    In Polisse, the squad of Child Protection Unit includes Nadine (Karin Viard), who's in the middle of a divorce, her work partner, Iris (Marina Fois). Mathieu (Nicolas Duvauchelle) and his married partner, Chrys (Karole Rocher), who's just found out she's pregnant. The unit head is Balloo (Frederic Pierrot), who allows Fred (Joeystarr), the resident hothead with the heart of gold, to crash at his place. Joining the squad on assignment from the Interior Ministry to cover their activities is Melissa (Maïwenn), well-connected photographer who shows up wearing thick glasses.At first Melissa is entangled with these deviant adults, but later finds her feet and captures rhythms and dedication of the CPU unit at work.

                    Maiwenn's direction throws the viewers into the thick of things, when the film begins with the case of a little girl reporting her father. Then, the characters slowly emerge as Maiwenn follows different cases, heated discussions over lunch and after-work gossip sessions. As a director, she brings out terrific, naturalistic performances from her ensemble without shunning the extreme emotional highs and lows that could have led to more caricatured turns. Maïwenn and co-writer Emmanuelle Bercot has spent some time with a child-protection police task force, and her respect and sympathy for its members, as well as her grasp of their limitations, informs every scene in this unruly, gripping film.
                  The cases shown in the film for the police officers to deal— parents who sexually abuse their children or force them to commit crimes; children who do terrible harm to themselves and one another — routinely expose the foulest aspects of human nature. However, the officers approach their jobs with conviction and, often, good humor and occasionally their laughter seems insensitive, as when some of them ridicule a teenage girl who has traded sex for a cellphone. 

                 Viard, known as the French Meryl Streep, and Fois, with her blunt, plainspoken style, exhibit a broad scale of acting from comedy to tragedy. Sandrine Kiberlain is memorable in her role as a wife and mother who shows up at the police station, full of the weight of guilt and misery, to report her husband's sexual abuse of their daughter. Joeystarr, a famous local rapper, as Fred delivers on the promise of a acting talent. Editing is impressively done, which balances these moments of high drama and police action with more routine office work. Handheld camera techniques pervades a nonfiction feel that augments the urgency and rawness that propel the entire film. 

                 The climax is a melodramatic and the  action also veers now and then, but the untidiness of the film seems appropriate to its subject, which is the attempt to bring at least a measure of order — and even a touch of grace — to a chaotic and frequently ugly reality. 

                 Polisse is a movie about social work and society, not a myth that says socio-legal justice provides closure. Here you are not asked to see anyone as a hero because the men and women protecting Paris’s kids are dirtier, more ethically challenged, and more humanly dysfunctional than they are in most movies about cops. "Polisse" is a movie offered more in the spirit of enlightenment than entertainment. 


Polisse - IMDb

1 comment:

Haricharan Pudipeddi said...

Arun, it's high time we should collaboratively decide which films we want to watch. I happen to watch this film day before yesterday :) Good one, bro