Screenplay: Maïwenn, Emmanuelle Bercot
Starring: Karin Viard, Joey Starr, Marina Foïs, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Maïwenn
Producer: Alain Attal
Running Time: 127 min
BBFC Certificate: 15
For a change I thought I’d open this review with a fact about this film that I found quite surprising; the gritty police drama Polisse is directed and co-written by (as well as stars) Maïwenn, who was the blue alien opera singer Diva Plavalaguna in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element. I don’t know why I found that of particular interest, but it seemed like such an odd fit I thought it was worth a mention.
Polisse follows the day to day workings and after hours lives of the Child Protection Unit of the Paris Police Department. A young photojournalist (Maïwenn herself) is assigned to follow the unit for several months and she (along with the audience) gets to discover the horrific acts perpetrated behind closed doors throughout the city as well as get up close and personal with one of the officers, Fred (Joey Starr), with whom she starts an affair.
Maïwenn spent time working with real police officers to inspire the film and indeed the structure and presentation is that of an observer studying their activities (embodied by her character in the film of course). We never linger on single cases – rarely getting closure on any of them, and the visual style is of a fly on the wall documentary, so everything is experienced from a distance. This prevents the extremely heavy subject matter from getting too hard to bear, but allows for a large volume of cases to be presented, creating a sense of the overwhelming horrors that the officers have to face every day. From the opening scene where one tries to question a 6 year old girl about whether or not her father has been touching her inappropriately, we know this isn’t going to be easy going.
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