Polisse Directed by: Maïwenn Cast: Karin Viard, Maïwenn, Joeystarr, Frédéric Pierrot, Marina Fois, Emmanuelle Bercot, Karole Rocher Running Time: 2 hrs 7 mins Rating: R Release Date: May 25, 2012 (Limited and VOD)
PLOT: An ensemble drama about the many cases dealt with by Paris' Child Protection Unit, and the many employees whose personal lives are disturbed by their work.
WHO'S IT FOR?: Polisse demands a highly attentive audience. This movie is for those who are fans of police dramas, and also films like Traffic.
In Polisse, Paris' CPU is made up of average looking middle-aged men and women who have some problems of their own (bad marriages, extreme stress, self-loathing). When they go to work they deal with cases of abuse and child endangerment that are bad, really bad, or disgustingly ugly, and then try to not let that cut into the amount they joke around when hanging out with each other after a long day. And despite experiencing all of the disturbing low points of human morality they scour through each day, most of them defend this passion with something along the lines of, "I love my job."
In its beginning, Polisse seems to just pile on the cases and characters. But we soon see that, like any great script, Polisse is successfully able to give succinct presentations of its many characters, and we are allowed to understand their dimensions through brief telling (and memorable) moments. Without any introductions or title cards, the movie bounces between voyeuristic instances of these fascinating hard-workers, mixing them with prologues of episodes of abuse (the cases that will soon become work for these employees).
With this brave storytelling technique, the movie comes together like when one actually assembles a puzzle of many, many pieces. When putting the many arcs together, you feel like you're missing a piece - but close attention proves otherwise. Though Polisse features many introductions to many lives, quietly moving between all of them, moments are not superfluous. For a story that reaches to so many characters and provides what seems like an endless amount cases, (not all of them with conclusions of justice) this is a script that treads with impressive exact focus.
Writer/director Maïwenn, who casts herself in the movie as a photographer for the CPU, has created a fascinating full picture out of small details. This isn't being thrown into just a "day in the life," but many days of many lives. We feel their moments of victory, (such as when they rescue a group of children), their blood-pumping moments (an incognito sting in a mall) and worst of all, the moments in which they are reminded of the crushing futility behind the cycle they work in. Whether this consuming job of fighting evil finally destroys them or not, the puzzle will never be finished.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10