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DVD: Police, Adjective | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Police, Adjective

DVD: Police, Adjective

Low-key, thought-provoking detective drama from film-rich Romania

What's new in Romania? Dragos Bucur as reluctant detective Cristi

Katalin Varga was one of the finest films at the 2009 Berlinale. Directed by British auteur Peter Strickland, it was filmed, beautifully, in Romania: a heartbreaking story about rape, it was all, and really only, about the catastrophically unresolved - in Romanian official culture inadmissible - evils of the Ceauşescu past.

Corneliu Porumboiu’s Police, Adjective is about the same thing. After his 2006 Cannes winner 12:08 East of Bucharest, nailing some of the so-called romance of the 1989 uprising against the then soon-to-be executed dictator, this low-key 2009 movie about a detective in nowheresville isn’t a spirit raiser. Cristi (Dragoş Bucur) is on the heels of a boy suspected of dope-running. He’s probably just enjoying a toke or two and Cristi believes him innocent, but his boss, Anghelache (Vlad Ivanov), insists on a peddling charge.

The scene in which the latter lexically stabs the hapless Cristi into traducing his conscience - a dictionary being the most surprising item of drama in this otherwise drama-free parable about insane authority - gives rise to the film’s title. Adjectivally “police” evidence or testimony are rigged to convict the innocent. So what, post-Ceauşescu, is new?

This is a thoughtful piece, a winner in Cannes’s 2009 Un Certain Regard section (Romania has turned up there four times since 2005), but will leave you gasping for your Big Sleep or Poirot as soon as it’s over.

Watch the dictionary scene from Police, Adjective

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