Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Notes on Polisse

1. Maiwenn, the director, hasn't just cast herself in her own film - a common enough practise for actors who take up directing - she's written herself into the film through the surrogate role of an embedded photojournalist. Given that Polisse is not about film-making this is a curious choice.

A charitable reading would suggest that she's seeking to emphasise that her film is realistic. Her character’s role, and by extension her own, is not that of a director who tells a story. Rather she's a reporter who relays the situation on the ground. This is of a piece with both the opening title card, which informs the audience that all the cases in the film are based on actual police reports, and with the use of hand-held digital cameras, which have become de rigueur for anyone looking to convey a sense of verisimilitude. However the dialogue she gives her surrogate character suggests that she's also seeking to head-off criticism before it's even been levelled at her: The photojournalist tells others that she worries that people won't take her seriously if she presents herself as the young, attractive woman she is.

2. The closing shot is pretty risible. The film is more about toll of policing child abuse than it is about the victims or perpetrators of it. As such it's gilding the lily to end on a shot which hammers home the idea of these police officers giving their lives for others. It's even more disconcerting that the only on-screen death in the film is shot and edited in a highly aestheticised way (the final scene cross-cuts between a child happily jumping off a trampoline and an officer jumping out a window - all in slow motion) that is completely at odds with the previous commitment to gritty realism.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A 3-Iron with a Swing Weight of A0

My first impulse was to describe this film as a fantasy, or even an allegory, but both words suggest a more complex film than this one. Even the most light-weight fantasy constructs a meticulously detailed alternate world and even the most bare-faced allegory has its symbols at a greater remove from the things they symbolise. Instead 3-Iron feels like an idle daydream - I can almost picture Kim Ki-Duk sitting on a bench waiting for a bus and imagining that there was an angelic boy with a need to feel a part of something else who one day rescues a lonely abused women and reflecting on how nice and moving that would be.

It’s probably a pleasant thought for an afternoon but I'm not sure it makes for a good film. Daydreams are consequence free fancies and this aspect weakens the film. Ki-Duk shows a great reluctance to actually interrogate the troubling aspects of his protagonist’s behaviour, instead drifting easily past the consequences of his invasions of other peoples' lives and in the process passing them off as freak accidents (He feels bad! It's okay!) or the results of other peoples' failings; most frequently their inability to understand and sympathise with the fundamental good-heartedness of the protagonist. Indeed he doesn't interrogate his characters at all, or the situations they're in, or the mystical abilities they find salvation in - any one of which, even on its own, has some appeal. As a result 3-Iron drifts along in a haze of wouldn't-it-be-niceness which would be good enough for a short, a pornographic film, an advertisement, or a song, but is hardly enough to sustain a narrative feature.