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.

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