Police, Adjective (ROMANIA)
Next screening: Friday June 11/ 2:15pm/ The State Theatre
New Wave Romanian cinema has hit Sydney Film Festival, marking growing international interest and appreciation of Eastern European films. Along with the official competition pick, If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle (Florin Serban), the program also includes Police, Adjective/Politist, Adjectiv from writer/director Corneliu Porumboiu.
Winning the jury prize in the Un Certain Regard section in Cannes 2009, Police, Adjective follows the case of detective, Cristi (Dragos Bocur), a loner cop who works by his own rules, ignoring or avoiding his Captain (Vlad Ivanov). After the denouncement (a word with huge connotations in ex-communist countries) of one friend Victor, for being a drug dealer, by another- Alex, Cristi puts the boys under surveillance. But finding little more than a bit of recreational hashish smoking and a third female friend, Cristi is reluctant to arrest Victor, who could face a seven year sentence. Instead Cristi continuously trails the trio in an effort to find the real supplier.
The use of time in this film is very different from what we are accustomed to in English-language cinema. Especially in what is essentially a police procedural film. Porumboiu unapologetically uses long scenes of Cristi’s surveillance with no dialogue and often little movement.
It is however the character interactions between long, drawn-out scenes which make this film. Cristi’s conversations with colleagues, his discussion of semantics with his Captain and his witty repartee with his wife (Irina Saulescu) are all cinematic gold. The dialogue is funny, clever and insightful. You spend the time during the film’s tortuous stretches of silence hoping for more human interaction on screen.
Police, Adjective is both comedic and tragic, with the central character, Cristi’s modern understanding of police work, and the recent history of Romania’s oppressive state firmly in opposition. This is a police drama without guns, violence or urgency- instead a slow-burning tale about the power of words. [BETH WILSON]