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police2Police, Adjective (Corneliu Porumboiu)

Sly is really, really good, and full of surprises! At first, this seems a modest, unassuming piece of work—just like Christi, its hero cop (Dragos Bucur). He spends most of his time with his head down, hands in his pockets, hiding behind lampposts, using his cellphone to record the action (mostly low-key) of the young suspects he’s tailing, and dutifully filing reports.

At home, he and his wife barely speak. She watches a variety show, playing her favorite pop tune over and over, while he eats alone in the kitchen. police 3A metaphysical discussion ensues to deconstruct the meaning of the song’s lyrics (don’t ask!). By then, writer/director Corneliu Porumboiu has gotten down to business, and you realize the game is on.

It continues back at the station house, as the cop’s stubborn insistence on sticking with his principles against the bureaucracy puts him increasingly at risk. The centerpiece (and it’s a knockout!) of this gem is a three-way debate that impales the heyday of Romania’s socialist dialectic and treats us to the leftovers, with a dictionary wielded as arbiter of doublespeak.police1

By the time you realize you’ve been had, and brilliantly, the film is over. Funny thing, though—you can’t stop thinking about it, or missing Christi, afterwards—or trying to figure out how you can see both of them again. Police, Adjective opens here in December, and you’ll find me in the theater.

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