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Police, Adjective

3.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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(Aug 30, 2011)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Cristi (Dragos Bucur) is a young undercover cop who undergoes a crisis of conscience when he is pressured to arrest a teenager who offers hash to classmates. Not wanting to ruin the life of a young man he considers merely irresponsible, Cristi must either allow the arrest to weigh on his conscience, or face censure by his self-serious superior (Vlad Ivanov, of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days), for whom the word conscience has an entirely different meaning. Porumboiu approaches his story with the exacting patience of a master ironist, culminating in one of the most unexpected comedic payoffs in years an extraordinary dissection of language that affirms his reputation as one of the most exciting new talents in European cinema.

Special Features Include:
-New transfer, enhanced for widescreen viewing
-Optional English subtitles
-Collectible 8-page press booklet
-Original theatrical trailer

Most people know what it means when a movie is described as a police procedural. Action, intrigue, suspense, and the solving of a crime are usually implicit ingredients. But the dryly funny Romanian import Police, Adjective takes the genre into a novel and unexpected realm that is simultaneously mannered, measured, minimalist, and furiously existential. Composed of long, uninterrupted takes with a minimum of dialogue, the structure is about as accurate a depiction of police procedure as is possible in the confines of a feature film, but without any of the standard elements of a crime drama. The criminals are a trio of ordinary teenagers who smoke dope in the schoolyard, and the cop is an unassuming detective named Cristi whose captain wants the ringleader rounded up and sent to prison for a good long time. Cristi has both moral and practical qualms about ruining the boy's life for something so innocuous, but he reluctantly follows orders -- until his conscience reaches a breaking point under his commander's brutal and unwavering orders, that is. Director Corneliu Porumboiu keeps his solid camera trained squarely on process as Cristi conducts the most basic surveillance of the kids, banters with his officemate, has insipid evening conversations with his wife, or clashes with his boss about duty, obligation, law, and ethics. Interspersed are unhurried shots that scroll down handwritten reports that detail his actions in building the case. As innocuous as it all sounds, there's real tension in these protracted scenes of the simplest procedures involved in doing work and living life. Though hardly laugh-out-loud funny, the comic satire implicit in conforming to details with such exactitude is the biggest payoff of Police, Adjective. Cristi's captain is a stickler not only for adherence to the regulations of police work, but also to the literal obedience that the rules of language and grammar dictate. His perverse cruelty comes out in a riveting scene late in the film (and its longest single shot) in which Cristi is forced to look up and read aloud the dictionary definitions of conscience, law, moral, and police, thereby damning himself with the very rules he thought he was abiding by in life. Police, Adjective takes a little time to make its case as both philosophical propaganda and entertainment. But given the proper attention and attitude it succeeds with grammatical precision on both counts. --Ted Fry

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Dragos Bucur
  • Directors: Corneliu Porumboiu
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Kimstim
  • DVD Release Date: August 30, 2011
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0051T46DW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,848 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on May 27, 2011
In the stunningly realistic Romanian film "Police, Adjective," we get an unadulterated view of mundane beat work and bureaucratic apathy. This is a true police procedural where not everything is a grand case waiting to be broken open. It may be a hard sell, however, for some audiences (especially if they are expecting a more conventional cop film) as almost NOTHING happens in the entire movie. Enormous sections are static and without dialogue and the most excruciatingly uncomfortable dramatic scene features reading the dictionary. Sounds awful and boring, huh? I know. And yet, I absolutely loved this movie--a thrillingly original piece that defies every expectation. I was so impressed after the concluding scene that I immediately went and looked this title up (I caught it on a whim, not knowing anything about it) and was pleasantly surprised to see that it had actually been awarded the prestigious Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

The plot is strikingly simple. A young cop (the impressive Dragos Bucur) is assigned to tail a high school student who is suspected of dealing drugs. Most of the movie highlights an isolated Bucur as he watches his target from afar. There is clearly no evidence of dealing, the kid shares an occasional marijuana cigarette with his after school friends but is doing nothing of a nefarious nature. Pushed to make a case, Bucur is resistant. He believes that marijuana will soon be legalized and busting this kid would ruin his life to no purpose. On his own initiative, he attempts to divert attention to more worthy targets but encounters apathy, procedure, and indifference every step of the way. The frustration is palpable as there exist no way to personalize the decidedly institutional department.
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1 Comment 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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The tag line to this Romanian film is `In a world where crime has no meaning'. I was keen to see this as it is from director Corneliu Porumboiu who did '12:08 East of Bucharest'.

This has a very basic plot in that a cop is assigned a case to target a drug dealer. He spends weeks watching him and staking out his house etc. He then files his report arguing for leniency as the law on drugs is so Draconian. His bosses take a more traditional police approach and he has a crisis of conscience. That is neither a plot spoiler or too short a synopsis as this is a basic film examining conscience. It is not a crime thriller or an action movie, despite having a gun on the cover, the dictionary it lies on is a better representation of this film.

Set in post Stalinist Romania, the settings are all bleak, rotting concrete and badly made roads, which add to the cold feel of the film. There is very little colour too so that when something bright -like a blue bucket- appears on screen I was immediately drawn to it. Whether that is intentional or a reflection on the greyness of the city is unclear.

There is also no background music at all, this adds to the feeling that time is passing slowly and there are many such devices which seem to heighten the mundanity of his job.

This film has many layers but you will have to dig to get them and at 113 minutes running time does seem overly long. However, when it gets moving, things change fairly rapidly. One of the things I love about World Cinema is the different approaches to film making from say Hollywood, but there are downsides too and this film for me required some effort. It felt a bit Kafkaesque so if that is your thing I am sure you will like this presentation from Artificial Eye.
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A young detective follows a high school kid, a suspected drug pusher, as he goes to school, hangs out with friends, and occasionally smokes hash. After several days worth of surveillance yields no leads on a supplier or any direct connections to illegal activity other than using, it's clear the kid is mostly harmless. Sure, the kid's breaking the law, but Cristi, the detective, knows that most places in Europe possession of marijuana doesn't even warrant arrest, and suspects the law will eventually change in Romania. While Cristi hesitates, reluctant to take responsibility for ruining the future of a young man, his supervisor wants results, even if it means bringing the kid in for possession, a minor crime, but one that could land the kid in jail for several years.

It's a simple police procedural film, with none of the hype or glamour or intrigue of even the simplest television cop show. There are no car chases, no shoot outs, no rapid fire montages of strip clubs and shady deals. The most dangerous weapon wielded in the climactic showdown is a dictionary. Still, under the masterful direction of Corneliu Porumboiu (12:08 East of Bucharest), this simple and deliberately paced film becomes a quite profound and subtle meditation on the meaning of conscience in a world regulated by law, and on the essence of language. While stylistically more direct, the approach of this film and its simple profundity reminded me of the best episodes in Krysztof Kieslowski's remarkable The Decalogue series. Highly recommended for patient lovers of great cinema.
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