POLISSE


The new French movie about the lives, loves and tribulations of the CPU, the Child Protection Unit, of the French police.  It’s half procedural and half soap opera, though the soap opera half seems to take the lion’s share.  The procedural is quite interesting.  The soap opera less so—in fact, it’s deadly (to riff on Woody Allen in Annie Hall, the food is terrible and the portions are so large).   My guess is that one of the points of the movie is that these people are doing their best in a hostile world; that no one gives them proper respect; and they have the same problems as everyone else.  Unfortunately, because of that, the movie tends to come across as created by people with an inferiority complex (the single named Maiwenn is the director and co-wrote the script with Emmanuelle Bercot, both of whom are also in the movie).  It’s also unclear that the characters come across the way Maiwenn and Bercot would like.  All the characters have anger management issues; show the same contempt for the bad guys as the victims (there’s one scene where they laugh and make fun of a victim right in front of her); and no matter what they say, don’t seem that interested in the truth (they come from the perspective that kids never lie).  A few months before this, I saw a French movie, Guilty, also based on a true story, about a man who was falsely accused of pedophilia and spent years in jail without a trial.  For Polisse, crimes against children lack any such ambiguity.  The cast is filled with tons of familiar faces from French films, both young to old; I can’t say it’s all star, but at times it comes to feel something like a Woody Allen film as the familiar faces parade by.  Everyone gives a solid performance and they all act the piece as if the life of the real CPU depended on it.  There’s nothing to complain about there; I mean, it got seven Cesar nominations in acting alone for God sakes.   And some of the things happening to children are horrifying.  It’s unfortunate that the movie as a whole didn’t focus on that aspect of the script rather than the home life of the officers.
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