List Film

Polisse (3 stars)

Sprawling French ensemble drama that veers between compelling and ridiculous

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Polisse

This sprawling ensemble film, which tracks the harrowing daily routines of a Parisian Child Protection Unit, veers wildly between the compelling and the ridiculous. Scripted and directed by Maiwenn, with Emmaneulle Bercot acting as co-writer, it shifts between an array of police colleagues, including the divorcing Nadine (Karin Viard), the hot-headed Fred (Joeystarr), the combative Iris (Marina Fois), and the paternal Balloo (Frédéric Pierrot), as they grapple with endless cases of child abuse, teenage prostitution, and underage pick-pocketing.

Shot on hand-held DV cameras, the semi-improvised Polisse has a powerful sense of naturalistic immediacy, but the film is hamstrung by Maiwenn’s decision to cast herself in the role of a civilian photographer assigned to the group who, in the obligatory relaxing-in-the-nightclub scene, turns out to have supermodel looks, and romances the volatile cop from the wrong-side of the tracks. Individual confrontations and performances (not least Louis-Do de Lenquessaing’s unrepentant molester) impress, and there are interesting ideas here about the gulf between the world-weary adults and the prematurely-sexualised and often foul-mouthed adolescents, but overall Polisse is a clear case of a film that needed much more stringent editing.

Selected release from Fri 15 Jun.

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Polisse

  • 3 stars
  • 2011
  • France
  • 127 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Maiwenn
  • Written by: Maiwenn, Emmanuelle Bercot
  • Cast: Karin Viard, Joey Starr, Marina Fois
  • UK release: 15 June 2012

Sprawling ensemble drama about the daily routines of a Child Protection Unit of the Paris police. There are strong performances and writer/director Maiwenn conveys a powerful sense of naturalism – except for her credibility-stretching decision to cast herself as a glamorous civilian photographer who gets involved with a…

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