Thursday, December 31, 2009
Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu's second feature "Police, Adjective" (Poliţist, Adjectiv | Romania 2009 | in Romanian | 115 min.) is very different from his critically acclaimed feature debut "12:08 East of Bucharest." It is much quieter, slow paced, and observant. It requires plenty patience to allow the story to settle in and to allow the characters to develop. The film won the Un Certain Regard jury prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival, and is selected as Romanian's submission to compete for this year's Oscar, although it might be a very long shot for this film to get nominated.
The story is set in today's post-Communist Romania. Cristi (Dragos Bucur) is a detective who is assigned to investigate a high school student who is a suspect for smoking pot with two other schoolmates. He follows the boy day after day like a CIA agent who is tracking down an international terrorist group. He files hand written reports with great details about his uneventful surveillance. Although he dutifully performs his police work and deals with the bureaucracy, Cristi has doubt whether it is the right thing to do to lock away the school kid for seven years simply because the kid shares a joint with his schoolmate.
During the entire film, the sky is gloomy, the air is cold, and the environment surrounding Cristi is dull. They serve as a metaphor to Cristi's boring, eventless, and depressing job as a law enforcement. Nothing is exciting at his job, or at home. There is no murder to solve, and no robbery to stop. Yet, everybody at the police station is extremely busy on something. His pursuit to the school kid appears to be endless.
Many long takes in the film prolong this type of monotone sentiment as if Tsai Ming-liang were composing those scenes. However, in the end, the patience from the audience is rewarded with a hefty dividend.