Donnerstag, 10. Mai 2012

Film review: Poliţist, Adjectiv (Police, Adjective).

Literally half of this film is spent watching Cristi, a policeman investigating a teenager who smokes and shares joints, waiting. Waiting for the object of his observations to move, waiting for a new development in the case, waiting for his co-workers in the police station to do their job. The tedium becomes tedious also to us, our expectation of the pace picking up frustrated again and again. But what better way to showcase the absurdity of bureaucracy, grinding slowly and with little aim, especially when it's as anachronistic as in the Romania depicted here?

When Cristi requires archival information about the suspect he needs to enlist two colleagues for help. One has planned her day around her lunch break, which she intends to extend by meeting her boyfriend, and the second is busy all day supplying IDs to a seemingly endless queue of citizens - who, by the by, appear to be used to the circumstances that leave us bewildered and anxious, as everytime they're on screen they are seen patiently waiting their turn. He practically needs to beg his two co-workers for the assistance they're paid for to give. Hours later, Cristi gets to shuffle through the papers he requested and we witness him writing his report - again, on paper. The computer on his desk is little more than a prop, as is the inspector who shares an office with him: He's never shown doing anything else but reading newspapers.

It's both an accusing and at the same time despairing account of a transitional country that hasn't left its totalitarian background behind yet. When in the end Cristi makes a stand and attempts to convince his superior not to pursue action against the kid's minor trespass - which will land the teenager in jail for several years - he is berated and disparaged for not following the letter of a law that is as outdated as everything else we see. Interestingly, we come to understand that his eventual submission is not only to the old mechanics of total state power, but also to the pressures of the new system: If he didn't comply he were to lose his job. His qualities as a free-thinking and free-willed individual are at best not wanted and at worst implicitly dangerous to the system he's part of. The director Corneliu Porumboiu's Romania is dirty, wet and depressing, the images constantly overlaid with a tint of cold blue. It's a dull place far from the European Union and far from Europe. 8/10

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